Study objectives This study tries to assess the endothelial function in vivo using flow-mediated dilatation (FMD) and several biomarkers of endothelium formation/restoration and damage in patients with obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) syndrome at baseline and after three months with CPAP therapy.
Design Observational study, before and after CPAP therapy.
Setting and Patients We studied 30 patients with apnoea/hypopnoea index (AHI) >15/h that were compared with themselves after three months of CPAP therapy. FMD was assessed non-invasively in vivo using the Laser-Doppler flowmetry. Circulating cell-free DNA (cf-DNA) and microparticles (MPs) were measured as markers of endothelial damage and the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) was determined as a marker of endothelial restoration process.
Measurements and results After three month with CPAP, FMD significantly increased (1072.26 ± 483.21 vs. 1604.38 ± 915.69 PU, p< 0.005) cf-DNA and MPs significantly decreased (187.93 ± 115.81 vs. 121.28 ± 78.98 pg/ml, p<0.01, and 69.60 ± 62.60 vs. 39.82 ± 22.14 U/μL, p<0.05, respectively) and VEGF levels increased (585.02 ± 246.06 vs. 641.11 ± 212.69 pg/ml, p<0.05). These changes were higher in patients with more severe disease. There was a relationship between markers of damage (r = -0.53, p<0.005) but not between markers of damage and restoration, thus suggesting that both types of markers should be measured together.
Conclusions CPAP therapy improves FMD. This improvement may be related to an increase of endothelial restoration process and a decrease of endothelial damage.