Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Diabetes: A State of the Art Review

Chest. 2017 Nov;152(5):1070-1086. doi: 10.1016/j.chest.2017.05.009. Epub 2017 May 17.


OSA is a chronic treatable sleep disorder and a frequent comorbidity in patients with type 2 diabetes. Cardinal features of OSA, including intermittent hypoxemia and sleep fragmentation, have been linked to abnormal glucose metabolism in laboratory-based experiments. OSA has also been linked to the development of incident type 2 diabetes. The relationship between OSA and type 2 diabetes may be bidirectional in nature given that diabetic neuropathy can affect central control of respiration and upper airway neural reflexes, promoting sleep-disordered breathing. Despite the strong association between OSA and type 2 diabetes, the effect of treatment with CPAP on markers of glucose metabolism has been conflicting. Variability with CPAP adherence may be one of the key factors behind these conflicting results. Finally, accumulating data suggest an association between OSA and type 1 diabetes as well as gestational diabetes. This review explores the role of OSA in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes, glucose metabolism dysregulation, and the impact of OSA treatment on glucose metabolism. The association between OSA and diabetic complications as well as gestational diabetes is also reviewed.

Keywords: OSA; central sleep apnea; diabetic complications; gestational diabetes; sleep apnea; type 1 diabetes; type 2 diabetes; weight loss.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Comorbidity / trends
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / prevention & control
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Preventive Medicine / methods*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / epidemiology*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / prevention & control