Obstructive sleep apnea: role in the risk and severity of diabetes

Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2010 Oct;24(5):703-15. doi: 10.1016/j.beem.2010.08.009.


Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a treatable sleep disorder that is pervasive among overweight and obese individuals. Current evidence supports a robust association between OSA and insulin resistance, glucose intolerance and the risk of type 2 diabetes, independent of obesity. Up to 83% of patients with type 2 diabetes suffer from unrecognized OSA and increasing severity of OSA is independently associated with poorer glucose control. Evidence from animal and human models that mimic OSA supports a potential causal role for OSA in altered glucose metabolism. Robust prospective and randomized clinical trials are still needed to test the hypothesis that effective treatment of OSA may prevent the development of type 2 diabetes and its complications, or reduce its severity. Type 2 diabetes is occurring at alarming rates worldwide and despite available treatment options, the economic and public health burden of this epidemic remains enormous. OSA might represent a novel, modifiable risk factor for the development of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / etiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / pathology
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Glucose Intolerance / epidemiology
  • Glucose Intolerance / etiology
  • Glucose Intolerance / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology
  • Prediabetic State / epidemiology
  • Prediabetic State / etiology
  • Prediabetic State / metabolism
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / complications*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / epidemiology
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / metabolism
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / physiopathology


  • Glucose