Reduced Regional Grey Matter Volumes in Pediatric Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Sci Rep. 2017 Mar 17;7:44566. doi: 10.1038/srep44566.


Pediatric OSA is associated with cognitive risk. Since adult OSA manifests MRI evidence of brain injury, and animal models lead to regional neuronal losses, pediatric OSA patients may also be affected. We assessed the presence of neuronal injury, measured as regional grey matter volume, in 16 OSA children (8 male, 8.1 ± 2.2 years, AHI:11.1 ± 5.9 events/hr), and 200 control subjects (84 male, 8.2 ± 2.0 years), 191 of whom were from the NIH-Pediatric MRI database. High resolution T1-weighted whole-brain images were assessed between groups with voxel-based morphometry, using ANCOVA (covariates, age and gender; family-wise error correction, P < 0.01). Significant grey matter volume reductions appeared in OSA throughout areas of the superior frontal and prefrontal, and superior and lateral parietal cortices. Other affected sites included the brainstem, ventral medial prefrontal cortex, and superior temporal lobe, mostly on the left side. Thus, pediatric OSA subjects show extensive regionally-demarcated grey matter volume reductions in areas that control cognition and mood functions, even if such losses are apparently independent of cognitive deficits. Since OSA disease duration in our subjects is unknown, these findings may result from either delayed neuronal development, neuronal damaging processes, or a combination thereof, and could either reflect neuronal atrophy or reductions in cellular volume (neurons and glia).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain Mapping
  • Child
  • Female
  • Gray Matter / diagnostic imaging
  • Gray Matter / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Pediatrics
  • Prefrontal Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / diagnostic imaging
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / physiopathology*
  • Temporal Lobe / diagnostic imaging
  • Temporal Lobe / physiopathology*