Opportunities for new innovative therapeutic strategies have now been identified that could significantly improve the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea and, at the same time, the treatment of diseases associated with this sleep apnea.
A new study by experts at the University of Missouri investigated whether influencing senescence (aging and associated physical changes) in addition to partial normoxia (the normal state of oxygen supply) is beneficial in mice with chronic intermittent hypoxia. The results are published in the “American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine”.
Obstructive sleep apnea accelerates biological aging
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common condition that affects nearly a billion people worldwide, according to the team. It is characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep and is associated with accelerated biological aging and various end-organ health problems, including cardiovascular, cognitive and metabolic diseases.
Since current treatments such as the CPAP ventilation method (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) have only limited success against the health consequences of obstructive sleep apnea, the focus of the new research was on complementary therapies, in particular the use of senolytics, i.e. molecules that cause the death of senescent sleep apnea cells can be selectively induced.
The researchers analyzed whether targeted treatment of senescence, which targets the aging of cells, together with adherence to the most common treatment for sleep apnea (CPAP), improves the health of mice suffering from chronic intermittent hypoxia, a characteristic feature of the obstructive sleep apnea.
Advantages of combined treatment
It was shown that the combination of partial normoxic recovery with the senolytic Navitoclax (NAV) led, among other things, to remarkable improvements in the animals’ cognitive functions, the experts report.
In addition, such treatment had positive effects on the function of the coronary arteries, glucose and fat metabolism, and at the same time the so-called intestinal permeability was reduced, the team reports.
The combination of CPAP treatment with the senolytic Navitoclax also effectively reduced senescence in several organs. According to the researchers, this indicates a possible reversal of the cellular aging processes caused by obstructive sleep apnea.
Corresponding advantages were not observed when the mice were only treated with the help of the CPAP ventilation method.
“Our results suggest that the reversibility of end-organ disease caused by OSA goes beyond the normalization of oxygen supply. Targeting accelerated senescence appears to be a promising way to improve treatment outcomes in people with OSA,” explains study author Dr. David Gozal in a press release.
In the conducted preclinical model of obstructive sleep apnea, it is clear that restoring normal oxygenation patterns, as seen with conventional treatments (particularly the CPAP ventilation procedure), is ineffective in preventing or attenuating several end-organ dysfunctions, adds study author Dr. Mohammad Badran added.
General complementary or supportive therapeutic interventions (in this case senolytics) have the potential to become effective complementary treatments targeting obstructive sleep apnea-induced morbidities, according to the team.
New treatment approaches in prospect?
The new study improves understanding of the harmful processes associated with obstructive sleep apnea and may also help develop new treatment approaches aimed at reversing the diverse negative health effects of obstructive sleep apnea, the research team concludes. (as)