The predictive worth of oxygen saturation in obstructive sleep apnea

Oxygen saturation predicts inflammation in obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and could serve as a valuable biomarker for diagnosing and treating the condition, according to a study published in Sleep and Breathing.

In this retrospective cross-sectional study, the researchers examined the relationship between the severity of OSA and immune parameters. The researchers rated the immune profiles of 461 adults who participated in the 2015 EPISONO study for the severity of OSA (i.e., mild, , and severe) as well as oxygen saturation. Study participants whose profiles were selected for inclusion were under 60 of age and had no previous comorbidities.

When examining these patients’ EPISONO data, the researchers found that the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) was weakly associated with an inflammation profile. However, participants with decreased oxygen saturation were more likely to have increased white blood cell and neutrophil counts, as well as an increased neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio and increased C-reactive protein levels. The researchers concluded that there was a strong association between minimal oxygen saturation (SpO2%), decreased SpO2% average, and white blood cell counts study participants.

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The current study confirmed previous research suggesting that OSA promotes an pro-inflammatory status. However, the researchers said more research was needed to determine: 1) whether the AHI is the only tool for measuring OSA severity that can assess OSA-related changes in the immune ; and 2) mechanisms that lead to inflammation during OSA.

“These results reinforce the hypothesis that the leukocyte profile in the bloodstream, especially the neutrophil population, is a relevant biomarker for the severity of OSA,” the authors concluded. “Our results showed that oxygen saturation is a predictor of inflammation during OSA and should be considered critical in diagnosing and treating disease,” they stated.


Fernandes ER, Pires GN, Andersen ML, et al. Oxygen saturation as a predictor of inflammation in obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep breath. Published online November 18, 2021. doi: 10.1007 / s11325-021-02521-x



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