Influence of gender on upper airway structure and function during obstructive sleep apnea

November 25, 2001 -- Bethesda, Md. The November edition of Journal of Applied Physiology, one of the 14 peer-reviewed journals published by the American Physiology Society (APS), spotlights recent research findings designed to improve and understand human well-being and health. The summary below, from the current edition, focuses on Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), a medical condition that is life threatening and affects millions of Americans.


Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome (OSAS) is characterized by recurrent upper airway collapse and obstruction. Upper airway structure and function are believed to be primary determinants of the degree of upper airway collapsibility. Gender differences in upper airway structure and function are believed to explain the clear male predominance of OSAS in the general population.

In an investigation of the influence of gender on upper airway structure and function, James A. Rowley, Xusong Zhou, Isabelle Vergine, Mahdi A. Shkoukani, and M. Safwan Badr, all of the Sleep Research Laboratory, John D. Dingell Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, Department of Medicine, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, Michigan, conducted an investigation using two protocols involving men and women.

Upper airway collapsibility can be measured in several ways. Most researchers have focused on pharyngeal resistance, an indirect measure of upper airway caliber. Another measure is critical closing pressure (Pcrit), a concept based on modeling the upper airway as a simple collapsible tube. Although Pcrit has been compared between subjects with and without sleep apnea, there have been no reports on differences in Pcrit with gender.


In the study, these researchers examined two measures of upper airway mechanics that have been previously shown to characterize upper airway mechanics and function (pharyngeal resistance and

Contact: Donna Krupa
American Physiological Society

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