The single-breath diffusing capacity for carbon monoxide in obstructive sleep apnea and obesity

Chest. 1996 Nov;110(5):1189-93. doi: 10.1378/chest.110.5.1189.


Background: We have observed high values of single-breath diffusing capacity for carbon monoxide (Dco) in patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Study objectives: To confirm this observation and to determine the factors influencing diffusion indices in patients with OSA. As weight excess was found to be the major determinant of increased diffusion indices, the adequacy of various prediction equations was evaluate in obese subjects.

Design: Retrospective data collection.

Setting: University hospital.

Methods: DCO was measured in patients with OSA and in nonapneic subjects who served as control

Subjects: The results were expressed with respect to our own reference values and also to other prediction equations.

Results: In moderate/severe OSA (apnea/hypopnea index [AHI] > or = 30), both DCO and transfer coefficient (KCO) were increased and KCO was positively correlated with AHI and body mass index (BMI). Diffusion indices were not different between patients with moderate/severe OSA and nonapneic control subjects matched for age and BMI. In the latter group, KCO was also correlated with BMI. In our obese patients (BMI, 36.7 +/- 5.6 kg/m2), DCO was about 10% and KCO was 20 to 25% greater than predicted by standard reference equations.

Conclusions: DCO and KCO are increased in a typical population of patients with moderate/severe OSA. This appears to be due to weight excess and not to OSA itself. In obese subjects, whether apneic or not, BMI is a determinant of diffusion indices that are higher than predicted by equations relying on age and stature alone.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Body Height
  • Body Mass Index
  • Carbon Monoxide / blood
  • Carbon Monoxide / metabolism*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Polysomnography
  • Pulmonary Diffusing Capacity / physiology*
  • Respiration / physiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / metabolism
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / physiopathology*


  • Carbon Monoxide