Metabolomics and microbiome profiling as biomarkers in obstructive sleep apnoea: a comprehensive review

Eur Respir Rev. 2021 May 11;30(160):200220. doi: 10.1183/16000617.0220-2020. Print 2021 Jun 30.


Introduction: Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a common sleep disorder with a high social and economic burden. Thus, early prediction and diagnosis of OSA are important. Changes in metabolism and the microbiome may serve as biomarkers for OSA. Herein, we review the literature on the metabolomic and microbiome changes associated with OSA, and identify the metabolites and microorganisms involved.

Methods: We searched the PUBMED and EMBASE electronic databases using the following terms: "obstructive sleep apnea", "OSA", "sleep disordered breathing", "SDB", "intermittent hypoxia", "sleep fragmentation", and either "metabolomics" or "microbiome". In total, 273 papers were identified, of which 28 were included in our study.

Results: Changes in the levels of certain metabolites related to fatty acid, carbohydrate and amino acid metabolism were associated with the incidence of OSA. The diversity and abundance of microflora, particularly Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes, were altered in humans and rodents with OSA.

Conclusions: Certain changes in metabolism and the microbiota play an integral role in the pathophysiology of OSA and OSA-induced cardiovascular complications. Metabolomic and microbiome biomarkers shed light on the pathogenesis of OSA, and facilitate early diagnosis and treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers
  • Humans
  • Metabolomics
  • Microbiota*
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive* / diagnosis
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive* / epidemiology


  • Biomarkers