Rodent models of sleep apnea have long been used to provide novel insight into the generation and predisposition to apneas as well as to characterize the impact of sleep apnea on cardiovascular, metabolic, and psychological health in humans. Given the significant body of work utilizing rodent models in the field of sleep apnea, the aims of this review are three-fold: first, to review the use of rodents as natural models of sleep apnea; second, to provide an overview of the experimental interventions employed in rodents to simulate sleep apnea; third, to discuss the refinement of rodent models to further our understanding of breathing abnormalities that occur during sleep. Given mounting evidence that sleep apnea impairs cognitive function, reduces quality of life, and exacerbates the course of multiple chronic diseases, rodent models will remain a high priority as a tool to interrogate both the pathophysiology and sequelae of breathing related abnormalities during sleep and to improve approaches to diagnosis and therapy.
Keywords: Breathing; Central sleep apnea; Intermittent hypoxia; Mice; Obstructive sleep apnea; Rats; Upper airway.
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