Atrial electrophysiological and molecular remodelling induced by obstructive sleep apnoea

J Cell Mol Med. 2017 Sep;21(9):2223-2235. doi: 10.1111/jcmm.13145. Epub 2017 Apr 12.


Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) affects 9-24% of the adult population. OSA is associated with atrial disease, including atrial enlargement, fibrosis and arrhythmias. Despite the link between OSA and cardiac disease, the molecular changes in the heart which occur with OSA remain elusive. To study OSA-induced cardiac changes, we utilized a recently developed rat model which closely recapitulates the characteristics of OSA. Male Sprague Dawley rats, aged 50-70 days, received surgically implanted tracheal balloons which were inflated to cause transient airway obstructions. Rats were given 60 apnoeas per hour of either 13 sec. (moderate apnoea) or 23 sec. (severe apnoea), 8 hrs per day for 2 weeks. Controls received implants, but no inflations were made. Pulse oximetry measurements were taken at regular intervals, and post-apnoea ECGs were recorded. Rats had longer P wave durations and increased T wave amplitudes following chronic OSA. Proteomic analysis of the atrial tissue homogenates revealed that three of the nine enzymes in glycolysis, and two proteins related to oxidative phosphorylation, were down regulated in the severe apnoea group. Several sarcomeric and pro-hypertrophic proteins were also up regulated with OSA. Chronic OSA causes proteins changes in the atria which suggest impairment of energy metabolism and enhancement of hypertrophy.

Keywords: ECG; atria; obstructive sleep apnoea; protein; proteomics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Electrocardiography
  • Electrophysiological Phenomena*
  • Heart Atria / diagnostic imaging
  • Heart Atria / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Oximetry
  • Oxygen / metabolism
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / diagnostic imaging
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / physiopathology*


  • Oxygen