Oxidative stress and oxidant signaling in obstructive sleep apnea and associated cardiovascular diseases

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Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) has emerged as a major public health problem and increasing evidence indicates that untreated OSA can lead to the development of various cardiovascular disorders. One important mechanism by which OSA may promote cardiovascular diseases is intermittent hypoxia, in which patients are subjected to repeated episodes of brief oxygen desaturation in the blood, followed by reoxygenation. Such cycles of hypoxia/reoxygenation may result in the generation of reactive oxygen species. Some studies have demonstrated the presence of oxidative stress in OSA patients as well as in animals subjected to intermittent hypoxia. Further, modulations of nitric oxide and biothiol status might also play important roles in the pathogenesis of OSA-associated diseases. Reactive oxygen species and redox events are also involved in the regulation of signal transduction for oxygen-sensing mechanisms. This review summarizes currently available information on the evidence for and against the occurrence of oxidative stress in OSA and the role of reactive oxygen species in cardiovascular changes associated with OSA.

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