Background and objective: Patients with newly diagnosed OSA have been reported to have recent weight gain prior to diagnosis. Ghrelin stimulates food intake and increases weight gain. Plasma ghrelin is decreased in obese and increased in lean individuals. Of the two circulating forms of ghrelin, acylated and unacylated, the former is thought to be essential for the biological activity of ghrelin.
Methods: The plasma levels of the two forms of ghrelin were measured in 21 OSA patients (with a mean of 46.2 sleep-disordered events/h) before and after 1 month of nasal CPAP (nCPAP) treatment, and were compared with those in 14 untreated OSA patients and 13 individuals without OSA.
Results: The BMI was significantly higher in the 21 OSA patients than in the non-OSA group as were the baseline acylated (11.4 ± 5.86 vs 7.19 ± 3.80 fmol/mL, P = 0.03) and unacylated (84.2 ± 50.6 vs 48.3 ± 23.2 fmol/mL, P = 0.02) ghrelin levels. The total ghrelin level was positively correlated with the number of sleep-disordered breathings (P = 0.002). After 1 month of nCPAP treatment, the acylated ghrelin level significantly decreased (P = 0.02) while the unacylated ghrelin level did not (P = 0.09).
Conclusions: Treatment of OSA may play an important role in the management of obesity in these patients by reducing the acylated ghrelin level.