Catecholamines and children obstructive sleep apnea: a systematic review

Sleep Med. 2021 Nov:87:227-232. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2021.09.007. Epub 2021 Sep 20.


Introduction: Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common sleep-related breathing disorder in children and is characterized by recurrent total or partial upper airway collapse episodes during sleep. OSA is associated with cardiovascular, metabolic and neurobehavioural complications related to sympathetic nervous system (SNS) activation. A key role in originating these complications and in underlying pathophysiologic mechanisms can be attributed to altered catecholamines (CAs) metabolism.

Methods: A systematic review was performed according to the PRISMA Statement guidelines for research studies correlating OSA in children with catecholamines.

Results: Only 13 studies out of 151 reports were included in the review. Most studies (9 out of 13) showed increased secretion for some catecholamines in patients with a sleep-related breathing disorder or OSA compared to a control group or post treatment control group.

Conclusion: OSA can activate the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and increase catecholamines (CAs) production, perhaps contributing to increased morbidity. However, underlying pathophysiologic mechanisms remain still unclear.

Keywords: Catecholamines (CAs); Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA); Sympathetic nervous system (SNS).

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Catecholamines*
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Sleep
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive* / complications
  • Sympathetic Nervous System


  • Catecholamines