Colo. – Researchers from the University of Colorado School of
Medicine have published a new study showing that sleep apnea worsens
non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in obese adolescents.
Sundaram, MD, MSC, associate professor of pediatrics, and her fellow
researchers from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus studied 36
adolescents with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), along with 14 lean
patients, to assess whether sleep apnea and low nighttime oxygen promoted the
progression of the disease. The children eligible for the study were at the
Children’s Hospital Colorado Pediatric Liver Center between June 2009 and
is emerging evidence that obesity-related obstructive sleep apnea and
intermittent nocturnal hypoxia are associated with progression of non-alcoholic
fatty liver disease,” said Sundaram, whose study was published online in the
Journal of Hepatology this month and appears in the September 2016 issue of the
is the accumulation of extra fat in liver cells in people who are overweight
and who drink little or no alcohol. It is a disease of epidemic proportions
that is increasing worldwide in both adults and children. It is estimated to
affect up to 30 percent of the general population in western countries and up
to 9.6 percent of all children.
this study, investigators found that patients with obstructive sleep apnea and
hypoxia, which is when the body is deprived of adequate oxygen supply, had more
severe scar tissue in their livers than those without sleep apnea and hypoxia,
driven by an imbalance of oxidative stress.
recognizing that sleep-disordered breathing is an important trigger of the
stress on the liver, follow-up investigations can focus on whether therapy,
such as nighttime continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), may reduce the
harm caused by sleep apnea and hypoxia.
fellow authors of the article are Ann Halbower, MD; Zhaoxing Pan, PhD; Kristen
Robbins; Kelley E. Capocelli, MD; Jelena Klawitter, PhD; Colin T. Shearn, PhD;
and Ronald J. Sokol, MD, all from University of Colorado Anschutz Medical
Campus. The research was conducted in the Clinical Translational Research
Center at Children’s Hospital Colorado and supported by grants from the
National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the NIH’s National Center for Advancing