Severe sleep-disordered breathing is related to fast aging, study says

Preliminary results of a new study provide biological evidence of the hostile effects of untreated sleep-disordered breathing.

This study suggests that increasing severity of sleep-disordered breathing and sleep disruption are associated with epigenetic age acceleration. The abstract of the research was published recently in a supplement of the journal Sleep.

The biological age of individuals might not be the same as their chronological age. However, individuals whose biological age is more than their chronological age show fast aging or age acceleration.

In the current study, researchers found that more severe sleep-disordered breathing is related to epigenetic age acceleration. Therefore, this data provides biological evidence supporting adverse biological and health effects of untreated sleep-disordered breathing.

Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB), like obstructive sleep apnea, is described by aberrations of respiration during sleep. It includes an array of respiratory sleep disorders which affects approximately 20% of the middle-aged population. The known risk factors for Sleep-disordered breathing include obesity, age, and male gender.

Its occurrences often cause reductions in blood oxygen saturation. That are usually ended by transitory arousals from sleep. In the U.S., approximately 30 million adults have obstructive sleep apnea. Its common warning signs consist of snoring and excessive daytime sleepiness.

Findings of the study

According to the researchers, epigenetic age acceleration is a DNA methylation-based marker of fast biological aging. And is associated with changeable lifestyle factors. Though sleep-disordered breathing is related to multiple age-related health illnesses, its association with epigenetic aging has not been well studied.

This study involved 622 participants with a mean age of 69 years. From them, 53.2% were women. Adults were measured for blood DNA methylation, and their sleep was assessed at home by polysomnography.

Results of the study show that each typical deviation upsurge in the apnea-hypopnea index, which is a measure of sleep-disordered breathing severity, was related to the equivalent of 215 days of biological age acceleration.  Likewise, each standard deviation rise in the arousal index, a measure of sleep interruption, was related to the equivalent of 321 days of age acceleration.

Age acceleration events were calculated as residuals from the regression of each epigenetic age on consecutive age. However, the link of sleep-disordered breathing trait with age acceleration was assessed through linear regression, adjusting for health behaviors, socio-demographics, body mass index, and study site.

Another surprising finding of the study was that these links were stronger in women than in men. Thus, suggesting that women may be chiefly vulnerable to the contrary effects of sleep-disordered breathing.

Future prospects of the study

The authors of the study suggested that future work should study whether treatment decreases epigenetic age acceleration among those who have sleep-disordered breathing.

Sleep-disordered breathing is common and treatable. But often, it is undiagnosed and under-treated. However, the data of the current study highlight the perspective for sleep-disordered breathing treatment to improve age-related long-lasting conditions and endurance.

As epigenetic changes are adjustable, epigenetic age estimators may be beneficial for finding and validating anti-aging interventions.


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