Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common syndrome that features a complex etiology and set of mechanisms. Here we summarized the molecular pathogenesis of OSA, especially the prospective mechanism of upper? airway dilator fatigue and the current breakthroughs. Additionally, we also introduced the molecular mechanism of OSA in terms of related studies on the main signaling pathways and epigenetics alterations, such as microRNA, long non-coding RNA, and DNA methylation. We also reviewed small molecular compounds, which are potential targets for gene regulations in the future, that are involved in the regulation of OSA. This review will be beneficial to point the way for OSA research within the next decade.
Keywords: molecular pathogenesis; obstructive sleep apnea; pharyngeal muscle fatigue; signaling pathways.