Sleep and Breathing

, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 35–41 | Cite as

Relationship between inflammation and cognitive function in obstructive sleep apnea

  • Alexander Haensel
  • Wayne A. BardwellEmail author
  • Paul J. Mills
  • Jose S. Loredo
  • Sonia Ancoli-Israel
  • Erin E. Morgan
  • Robert K. Heaton
  • Joel E. Dimsdale
Original Article



Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can have adverse effects on cognitive functioning, mood, and cardiovascular functioning. OSA brings with it disturbances in sleep architecture, oxygenation, sympathetic nervous system function, and inflammatory processes. It is not clear which of these mechanisms is linked to the decrease in cognitive functioning. This study examined the effect of inflammatory parameters on cognitive dysfunction.

Materials and methods

Thirty-nine patients with untreated sleep apnea were evaluated by polysomnography and completed a battery of neuropsychological tests. After the first night of evaluation in the sleep laboratory, blood samples were taken for analysis of interleukin 6, tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), and soluble TNF receptor 1 (sTNF-R1).


sTNF-R1 significantly correlated with cognitive dysfunction. In hierarchical linear regression analysis, measures of obstructive sleep apnea severity explained 5.5% of the variance in cognitive dysfunction (n.s.). After including sTNF-R1, percentage of variance explained by the full model increased more than threefold to 19.6% (F = 2.84, df = 3, 36, p = 0.05). Only sTNF-R1 had a significant individual relationship with cognitive dysfunction (β = 0.376 t = 2.48, p = 0.02).


sTNF-R1 as a marker of chronic inflammation may be associated with diminished neuropsychological functioning in patients with OSA.


Obstructive sleep apnea Cognitive dysfunction Cytokine IL-6 TNF-α sTNF-R1 



This work was supported by NIH grants HL044915, RR00827, and AG08415 and by the grant PBBSB115117 from the Swiss National Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexander Haensel
    • 1
    • 2
  • Wayne A. Bardwell
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Paul J. Mills
    • 2
  • Jose S. Loredo
    • 4
  • Sonia Ancoli-Israel
    • 2
    • 3
  • Erin E. Morgan
    • 2
  • Robert K. Heaton
    • 2
  • Joel E. Dimsdale
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of General Internal MedicineUniversity Hospital BerneBerneSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of CaliforniaSan DiegoUSA
  3. 3.Moores UCSD Cancer CenterLa JollaUSA
  4. 4.Department of MedicineUniversity of CaliforniaSan DiegoUSA

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