Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Kidney Disease: A Potential Bidirectional Relationship?

J Clin Sleep Med. 2015 Aug 15;11(8):915-24. doi: 10.5664/jcsm.4946.


Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is associated with high mortality rates and heavy economic and social burdens. Nearly 10% of the United States population suffer from CKD, with fatal outcomes increased by 16-40 times even before reaching end-stage renal disease. The prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is between 3% and 7% in the general population, and has increased dramatically during the last 2 decades along with increased rates of obesity. However, the prevalence of OSA is much greater in patients with CKD. In addition, aggressive dialysis improves OSA. The current literature suggests a bidirectional association between CKD and OSA through a number of potential pathological mechanisms, which increase the possibility of both diseases being possible risk factors for each other. CKD may lead to OSA through a variety of mechanisms, including alterations in chemoreflex responsiveness, pharyngeal narrowing due to fluid overload, and accumulation of uremic toxins. It is also being increasingly recognized that OSA can also accelerate loss of kidney function. Moreover, animals exposed to intermittent hypoxia suffer histopathological renal damage. Potential mechanisms of OSA-associated renal dysfunction include renal hypoxia, hypertension, endothelial dysfunction, activation of the sympathetic nervous system, and increased oxidative stress.

Keywords: endothelium; hypertension; kidney function; oxidative stress; sleep apnea.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / complications
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / complications*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / complications*