The severity of obstructive sleep apnoea is associated with insulin resistance

J Sleep Res. 1993 Mar;2(1):56-61. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2869.1993.tb00062.x.


Oral glucose tolerance tests (OGTT) were performed on eighteen patients with suspected obstructive sleep apnoea who also completed a whole-night polygraphic recording with oximetry. Insulin resistance indices (IRI) were calculated as the product of areas under glucose and insulin curves. In the resulting multiple regression analysis the dependent variable was IRI and the independent variables were age, body mass index (BMI) and the number of nocturnal hypoxic episodes with over 4% desaturation per hour (ODI4). ODI4 was between 4.6 and 70 (median 22.3); IRI ranged from 2.20 to 33.55 (median 7.50). In the regression model the coefficient of determination (R2) for IRI was 0.441 (F-ratio = 3.681, P = 0.038). The strongest determinant of IRI was ODI4 and the regression coefficient of BMI was not significantly different from zero even when possible outliers were excluded. It was found that insulin resistance is related to the severity of sleep anoea. This may be due to a hypoxia-induced hormonal stress reaction which decreases tissue insulin sensitivity. Since upper body obesity is associated with both insulin resistance and sleep apnoea, the distribution of fat should be taken into account in future studies.