Morphometric and functional connectivity changes in the brain of patients with obstructive sleep apnea: A meta-analysis

J Sleep Res. 2019 Dec;28(6):e12857. doi: 10.1111/jsr.12857. Epub 2019 Apr 14.


Existing evidence for brain morphometric changes and functional connectivity alterations in patients with obstructive sleep apnea is mixed. The current study aimed to meta-analyse the neuroimaging data, and thus synthesize a brain map showing locations with morphometric and functional connectivity differences between patients with obstructive sleep apnea and controls. Published studies to 2018 were retrieved and included into the analysis if they reported such between-group differences using voxel-based morphometry or resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging, and reported the results in the form of brain coordinates based on whole-brain analysis. Twelve voxel-based morphometry and seven resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging studies that comprised a total of 1,113 participants fulfilled the inclusion criteria. Compared with healthy controls, patients with obstructive sleep apnea had reduced resting-state connectivity in the right anterior cingulate and larger grey matter volume in the right insula. Patients with obstructive sleep apnea do have morphometric and resting-state connectivity alterations in the brain. These neural correlates may help explain the effects of obstructive sleep apnea on the emotion, cognition and quality of life of patients, and may be used in future for evaluating its treatment outcome.

Keywords: brain mapping; magnetic resonance imaging; neuroimaging; neuroscience; obstructive sleep apnea; sleep.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / physiopathology*