Patients with sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) were more likely to have impairments in free fatty acid metabolism than those without SDB, according to study results published in CHEST.

Body composition, full montage polysomnography, frequently sampled intravenous glucose tolerance test results were analyzed from patients both with and without SDB. Outcomes such as lipolysis suppression, time to free fatty acid nadir, and free fatty acid rebound during an intravenous glucose challenge were compared between groups. SDB severity was measured using the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI).

Of the 118 study participants, body mass index, central obesity, and body fat were associated with increased AHI. Furthermore, higher AHI was also associated with higher fasting glucose and insulin levels. SDB was associated with adipocyte insulin resistance, decreases in the glucose and insulin mediated suppression of lipolysis, a longer duration to reach a nadir in free fatty acid levels, and a sluggish rebound in free fatty acid levels after suppression. However, only adipocyte insulin resistance and the time to reach the free fatty acid nadir were independently associated with SDB.

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“Independent of adiposity, SDB is associated with impairments in [free fatty acid] metabolism which may contribute to the development of glucose intolerance and type 2 diabetes in SDB,” the study authors wrote.  


Stefanovski D, Boston R, Punjabi NM. Sleep-disordered breathing and free fatty acid metabolism [published online June 18, 2020]. CHEST. doi:10.1016/j.chest.2020.05.60

This article originally appeared on Pulmonology Advisor