International Journal of Molecular Sciences (Nov 2021)

Obstructive Sleep Apnea as an Acceleration Trigger of Cellular Senescence Processes through Telomere Shortening

  • Szymon Turkiewicz,
  • Marta Ditmer,
  • Marcin Sochal,
  • Piotr Białasiewicz,
  • Dominik Strzelecki,
  • Agata Gabryelska

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 22, no. 22
p. 12536


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Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is chronic disorder which is characterized by recurrent pauses of breathing during sleep which leads to hypoxia and its two main pathological sequelae: oxidative stress and chronic inflammation. Both are also associated with cellular senescence. As OSA patients present with higher prevalence of age-related disorders, such as atrial hypertension or diabetes mellitus type 2, a relationship between OSA and accelerated aging is observable. Furthermore, it has been established that these OSA are associated with telomere shortening. This process in OSA is likely caused by increased oxidative DNA damage due to increased reactive oxygen species levels, DNA repair disruptions, hypoxia, chronic inflammation, and circadian clock disturbances. The aim of the review is to summarize study outcomes on changes in leukocyte telomere length (LTL) in OSA patients and describe possible molecular mechanisms which connect cellular senescence and the pathophysiology of OSA. The majority of OSA patients are characterized by LTL attrition due to oxidative stress, hypoxia and inflammation, which make a kind of positive feedback loop, and circadian clock disturbance.