A controlled trial of CPAP therapy on metabolic control in individuals with impaired glucose tolerance and sleep apnea

Sleep. 2012 May 1;35(5):617-625B. doi: 10.5665/sleep.1816.


Study objectives: To address whether treatment of sleep apnea improves glucose tolerance.

Design: Randomized, double-blind crossover study.

Setting: Sleep clinic referrals.

Patients: 50 subjects with moderate to severe sleep apnea (AHI > 15) and impaired glucose tolerance.

Interventions: Subjects were randomized to 8 weeks of CPAP or sham CPAP, followed by the alternate therapy after a one-month washout. After each treatment, subjects underwent 2-hour OGTT, polysomnography, actigraphy, and measurements of indices of glucose control.

Measurements and results: The primary outcome was normalization of the mean 2-h OGTT; a secondary outcome was improvement in the Insulin Sensitivity Index (ISI (0,120). Subjects were 42% men, mean age of 54 (10), BMI of 39 (8), and AHI of 44 (27). Baseline fasting glucose was 104 (12), and mean 2-h OGTT was 110 (57) mg/dL. Seven subjects normalized their mean 2-h OGTT after CPAP but not after sham CPAP, while 5 subjects normalized after sham CPAP but not after CPAP. Overall, there was no improvement in ISI (0,120) between CPAP and sham CPAP (3.6%; 95% CI: [-2.2%, 9.7%]; P = 0.22). However, in those subjects with baseline AHI ≥ 30 (n = 25), there was a 13.3% (95% CI: [5.2%, 22.1%]; P < 0.001) improvement in ISI (0,120) and a 28.7% (95%CI: [-46.5%, -10.9%], P = 0.002) reduction in the 2-h insulin level after CPAP compared to sham CPAP.

Conclusions: This study did not show that IGT normalizes after CPAP in subjects with moderate sleep apnea and obesity. However, insulin sensitivity improved in those with AHI ≥ 30, suggesting beneficial metabolic effects of CPAP in severe sleep apnea. Clinical trials information: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT01385995.

Keywords: Obstructive sleep apnea; diabetes mellitus.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Actigraphy
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Glucose Intolerance / complications
  • Glucose Intolerance / metabolism
  • Glucose Intolerance / therapy*
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polysomnography
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / complications
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / metabolism
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / therapy*


  • Blood Glucose

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01385995