Continuous positive airway pressure treatment. Effects on growth hormone, insulin and glucose profiles in obstructive sleep apnea patients

Horm Metab Res. 1993 Jul;25(7):375-81. doi: 10.1055/s-2007-1002123.


The principal nocturnal GH peak normally coincides with the first episode of slow wave sleep (SWS). Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) patients have low nocturnal GH levels which may be explained by their poor quality fragmented sleep but other factors are possibly involved. Obesity is frequently associated with OSA, and obese patients also manifest reduced GH secretion. The mechanisms reducing GH levels in obese subjects are not understood, but hyperinsulinaemia is a suggested factor. In this study nocturnal plasma and secretory GH profiles of OSA patients were examined in relation to the quality and quantity of sleep, together with plasma glucose and insulin levels. Eight OSA patients, (BMI 32.7 +/- 2.3 kg/m2), underwent 2 night studies. For one night no treatment was given and for the other continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment was administered for the first time. Blood was collected continuously throughout each night and plasma GH, insulin and glucose profiles established in 10 min interval samples. From the plasma data a deconvolution model was used to calculate GH secretion rates. Sleep was recorded during the studies. For the non-treatment night GH levels were low and increased significantly with treatment, p = 0.008 for plasma levels and p = 0.02 for secretion rates. Treatment significantly decreased the cumulative apnea duration and increased the quantity of SWS and Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep (p = 0.008), but the mean insulin and glucose profiles did not differ between the two nights. Individual GH plasma and secretion rates, on treatment, showed a tendency to correlate with the amount of SWS (p = 0.09).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Growth Hormone / blood*
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Positive-Pressure Respiration*
  • Radioimmunoassay
  • Sleep / physiology
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / blood
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / metabolism*
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / therapy
  • Sleep, REM / physiology


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin
  • Growth Hormone