A recent study, published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, has shed light on a potential new approach to treating obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and its associated health problems. Led by researchers from the University of Missouri School of Medicine and the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, the study explores innovative therapeutic strategies that could significantly improve the understanding and management of OSA-related conditions.
OSA is a prevalent condition affecting approximately one billion people worldwide. It is known to be linked with accelerated aging, as well as various health issues in different organs, such as cardiovascular, cognitive, and metabolic problems. While current treatments like continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) have limited success in reversing these outcomes, the researchers delved into adjunct therapies, particularly the use of senolytics, to alleviate the burden of OSA.
The study aimed to assess whether targeting senescence, a process that focuses on aging cells, in combination with a simulated approach mimicking good adherence to CPAP, could improve physiological outcomes in mice exposed to chronic intermittent hypoxia, a key feature of OSA.
The findings showed that combining partial normoxic recovery with the senolytic Navitoclax (NAV) significantly reduced sleepiness during the nighttime, the usual sleep period for rodents. The combined therapy also demonstrated notable improvements in cognitive function. These positive effects were not observed when only CPAP was administered.
Dr. David Gozal, the corresponding author on the study, stated, “Our findings suggest that the reversibility of end-organ morbidities induced by OSA goes beyond normalizing oxygenation patterns.” He further emphasized that targeting accelerated senescence seems to be a promising avenue for improving treatment outcomes in individuals with OSA.
Dr. Mohammad Badran, an assistant professor at the University of Missouri School of Medicine, highlighted the ineffectiveness of traditional treatments, such as CPAP, in preventing or mitigating multiple dysfunctions linked to OSA. He stated, “Adjuvant therapies, in this case senolytics, have the potential of becoming valuable and effective treatments targeting OSA-induced morbidities.”
Additionally, the therapy showed positive effects on coronary artery function, glucose and lipid metabolism, and reduced intestinal permeability. The combination of simulated adherent CPAP treatment and NAV effectively reduced senescence in multiple organs, indicating a potential reversal of cellular aging processes caused by OSA.
This research could pave the way for a better understanding of the harmful processes involved in OSA-associated health problems and the development of novel approaches aimed at reversing the multifaceted impact of OSA on overall health. Further investigation, including the development of safe senolytics specifically for OSA and clinical studies in human subjects, is needed to validate these findings and explore potential applications in the field of sleep medicine.
The study involved several co-authors from the University of Missouri, including Dr. Clementine Puech, a post-doctoral fellow; Dr. Abdelnaby Khalyfa, an associate professor; Dr. Rene Cortese, an assistant professor in the Department of Child Health and the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Women’s Health; Kylie Cataldo, a research specialist; and Zhuanhong Qiao, a senior research consultant.
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