Ventilatory control sensitivity in patients with obstructive sleep apnea is sleep stage dependent

Shane A. Landry, Christopher Andara, Philip I. Terrill, Simon A. Joosten, Paul Leong, Dwayne L. Mann, Scott A. Sands, Garun S. Hamilton, Bradley A. Edwards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Study Objectives: The severity of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is known to vary according to sleep stage; however, the pathophysiology responsible for this robust observation is incompletely understood. The objective of the present work was to examine how ventilatory control system sensitivity (i.e. loop gain) varies during sleep in patients with OSA. Methods: Loop gain was estimated using signals collected from standard diagnostic polysomnographic recordings performed in 44 patients with OSA. Loop gain measurements associated with nonrapid eye movement (NREM) stage 2 (N2), stage 3 (N3), and REM sleep were calculated and compared. The sleep period was also split into three equal duration tertiles to investigate how loop gain changes over the course of sleep. Results: Loop gain was significantly lower (i.e. ventilatory control more stable) in REM (Mean ± SEM: 0.51 ± 0.04) compared with N2 sleep (0.63 ± 0.04; p = 0.001). Differences in loop gain between REM and N3 (p = 0.095), and N2 and N3 (p = 0.247) sleep were not significant. Furthermore, N2 loop gain was significantly lower in the first third (0.57 ± 0.03) of the sleep period compared with later second (0.64 ± 0.03, p = 0.012) and third (0.64 ± 0.03, p = 0.015) tertiles. REM loop gain also tended to increase across the night; however, this trend was not statistically significant [F(2, 12) = 3.49, p = 0.09]. Conclusions: These data suggest that loop gain varies between REM and NREM sleep and modestly increases over the course of sleep. Lower loop gain in REM is unlikely to contribute to the worsened OSA severity typically observed in REM sleep, but may explain the reduced propensity for central sleep apnea in this sleep stage.

Original languageEnglish
Article number040
Number of pages10
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018


  • chemosensitivity
  • endotype
  • loop gain
  • obstructive sleep apnea
  • sleep stages

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