Vascular Dysfunction in Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Academic Article uri icon


  • Despite the high prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM), the attributable vascular risk from each condition is unknown. We hypothesize that OSA may have a similar effect on vascular function as type 2 diabetes does. Healthy normal-weight subjects, healthy obese subjects, subjects with type 2 diabetes, and obese subjects with OSA were enrolled. Vascular function was assessed with brachial artery ultrasound for flow-mediated dilatation (FMD) and in skin microcirculation by laser Doppler flowmetry. One hundred fifty-three subjects were studied: healthy normal-weight controls (NCs) (n = 14), healthy obese controls (OCs) (n = 33), subjects with DM (n = 68), and obese subjects with OSA (n = 38). The DM group did not undergo sleep study and thus may have had subclinical OSA. The OSA and type 2 diabetes groups had impaired FMD as compared to both the normal-weight and OC groups (5.8 ± 3.8%, 5.4 ± 1.6% vs. 9.1 ± 2.5%, 8.3 ± 5.1%, respectively, P < 0.001, post hoc Fischer test). When referenced to the NC group, a multiple linear regression model adjusting for covariates found that baseline brachial artery diameter (β = −3.75, P < 0.001), OSA (β = −2.45, P = 0.02) and type 2 diabetes status (β = −2.31, P = 0.02), negatively predicted % FMD. OSA status did not seem to affect nitroglycerin-induced vasodilation (endothelium-independent) of the brachial artery or vascular function in the skin microcirculation. OSA impairs endothelial function in the brachial artery to a similar degree as type 2 diabetes does. OSA, however, does not appear to affect brachial endothelium-independent vasodilation or skin microcirculatory function. Treatment of OSA in patients with concomitant type 2 diabetes, therefore, may be a potential therapeutic option to improve macro-, but not microvascular outcomes.

publication date

  • January 1, 2011