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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

New experiment offers hope for people who suffer from sleep apnoea

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People who suffer from sleep apnoea could benefit from the findings of a study on mice.

Central sleep apnoea occurs when there is a breakdown in the signals that regulate breathing during sleep, when oxygen levels are low.

Researchers at Edinburgh University used genetically modified mice to show that an enzyme called AMPK helps maintain a normal breathing pattern. In mice not producing AMPK, the appropriate signals are not sent and they fail to breathe faster when oxygen is low.

Central sleep apnoea commonly affects obese people and those with type 2 diabetes. It causes snoring, high blood pressure and poor memory, and sufferers are susceptible to falling asleep during the day.

It is also a problem at higher altitudes, where reduced oxygen levels can disrupt breathing even in fit and healthy people.

Professor Mark Evans from the university’s Centre for Integrative Physiology said: “Our findings identify exciting new avenues for the treatment of sleep disordered breathing, because drugs that mimic AMPK activation could restore normal breathing patterns in people suffering from this disease.

“Mice with AMPK deficiencies could also prove useful for helping us to identify such therapies.”

The study is published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine and was funded by the Wellcome Trust and the British Heart Foundation.

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