Chemical imbalances may brew OSA

Thursday, July 31, 2003

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Add chemical imbalances in the brain to the list of possible causes of sleep disordered breathing.

In two new papers, published in the July 8 issue of the journal Neurology, researchers found connections between 13 patients with multiple system atrophy (MSA), a rare and fatal neurological disorder, and sleep apnea.

In those patients, a lack of brain cells that produce the key chemicals of dopamine and acetylcholine was linked to more thrashing, talking and flailing in sleep and to more interruptions in breathing. Researchers say their findings to date show correlation, not cause. Researchers at the University of Michigan, where the studies were conducted, say their findings are the first to link sleep apnea and chemical deficiencies in the brain. In recent years, sleep disordered breathing has also been linked to hypertension, stroke and obesity. HME