Study objectives: This study tries to assess the endothelial function in vivo using flow-mediated dilatation (FMD) and several biomarkers of endothelium formation/restoration and damage in patients with obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) syndrome at baseline and after three months with CPAP therapy.
Design: Observational study, before and after CPAP therapy.
Setting and patients: We studied 30 patients with apnoea/hypopnoea index (AHI) >15/h that were compared with themselves after three months of CPAP therapy. FMD was assessed non-invasively in vivo using the Laser-Doppler flowmetry. Circulating cell-free DNA (cf-DNA) and microparticles (MPs) were measured as markers of endothelial damage and the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) was determined as a marker of endothelial restoration process.
Measurements and results: After three month with CPAP, FMD significantly increased (1072.26 ± 483.21 vs. 1604.38 ± 915.69 PU, p< 0.005) cf-DNA and MPs significantly decreased (187.93 ± 115.81 vs. 121.28 ± 78.98 pg/ml, p<0.01, and 69.60 ± 62.60 vs. 39.82 ± 22.14 U/μL, p<0.05, respectively) and VEGF levels increased (585.02 ± 246.06 vs. 641.11 ± 212.69 pg/ml, p<0.05). These changes were higher in patients with more severe disease. There was a relationship between markers of damage (r = -0.53, p<0.005) but not between markers of damage and restoration, thus suggesting that both types of markers should be measured together.
Conclusions: CPAP therapy improves FMD. This improvement may be related to an increase of endothelial restoration process and a decrease of endothelial damage.