Obesity and obstructive sleep apnea syndrome in children: a tale of inflammatory cascades

Pediatr Pulmonol. 2011 Apr;46(4):313-23. doi: 10.1002/ppul.21370. Epub 2010 Oct 21.


Obesity has emerged as one of the most prevalent diseases in the western hemisphere, and its prevalence continues to increase. Obese children are at increased risk for several disorders, particularly affecting the cardiovascular and metabolic systems. The mechanisms leading to obesity-related morbidities are likely multifactorial, and include activation of inflammatory pathways ultimately leading to end-organ injury. Furthermore, the concurrent presence of obesity and other diseases facilitated by increased fat deposition poses a theoretical risk of accentuating obesity-related complications. One of the conditions whose prevalence is increased by obesity in childhood is the obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS). OSAS in non-obese children may lead to co-morbidities that are not only remarkably similar to those associated with obesity but recruit similar inflammatory mechanisms as those activated by obesity, suggesting that the two disorders may amplify each other and synergistically augment the magnitude of their respective adverse consequences. The objective of this review is to critically review the effects of both obesity and OSAS in inducing systemic inflammation in children and will examine the latest evidence pertaining to the up-regulation of specific inflammatory mediators.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Inflammation / physiopathology*
  • Inflammation Mediators / immunology
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / metabolism
  • Metabolic Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / etiology
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / metabolism
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / physiopathology*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism
  • Up-Regulation


  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • C-Reactive Protein