Background: Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) has been associated with increased systemic inflammatory responses that may contribute to an increased risk for end-organ morbidity. The changes in levels of pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-6 , and the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10, both of which play a major role in atherogenesis, a major consequence of OSA, have not specifically been assessed in pediatric patients.
Methods: Consecutive non-obese children (aged 4-9years) who were polysomnographically diagnosed with OSA, and age-, gender-, ethnicity-, and BMI-matched control children underwent a blood draw the next morning after a sleep study and plasma samples were assayed for interleukins 6 (IL-6) and 10 (IL-10). These tests were repeated 4-6months after tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy (T&A) in children with OSA.
Results: IL-6 levels were higher and IL-10 plasma levels were lower in children with OSA and returned to control levels after T&A.
Conclusions: Systemic inflammation is a constitutive component and consequence of OSA in many children, even in the absence of obesity, and is reversible upon treatment in most patients.