Circulating KL-6, a biomarker of lung injury, in obstructive sleep apnoea

Eur Respir J. 2009 Apr;33(4):793-6. doi: 10.1183/09031936.00150708.


In obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), oxidative stress contributes to endothelial dysfunction in the peripheral circulation. In the lung, oxidative stress can lead to alveolar injury. The present authors hypothesised that patients with OSA would have biomarker evidence of increased alveolar wall permeability. Sleep characteristics, brachial artery flow-mediated dilation and plasma KL-6 levels were observed in 11 otherwise healthy patients with OSA and 10 controls. Median (interquartile range) plasma KL-6 levels were higher in patients with OSA compared with controls: 317 (232-506) U.mL(-1) versus 226 (179-257) U.mL(-1), respectively. Higher plasma KL-6 levels were associated with greater time spent asleep with an oxyhaemoglobin saturation <90%, lower nadir saturation, more frequent desaturation of >4% during sleep and lower brachial artery flow-mediated dilation. Adjustment for nadir saturation or flow-mediated dilation attenuated the association between plasma KL-6 levels and OSA. Circulating KL-6 levels are elevated in some patients with obstructive sleep apnoea, possibly reflecting increased alveolar wall permeability.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mucin-1 / blood*
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Polysomnography
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / blood*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric


  • Biomarkers
  • MUC1 protein, human
  • Mucin-1