Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Young Lean Men

Impact on insulin sensitivity and secretion

  1. Esra Tasali, MD1
  1. 1Department of Medicine, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
  2. 2Department of Health Studies, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
  1. Corresponding author: Sushmita Pamidi, sushmita.pamidi{at}


OBJECTIVE To assess whether the presence of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) affects glucose metabolism in young, lean individuals who are healthy and free of cardiometabolic disease.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS In a prospective design, 52 healthy men (age 18–30 years; BMI 18–25 kg/m2) underwent laboratory polysomnogram followed by a morning oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). We stratified all subjects according to the presence or absence of ethnicity-based diabetes risk and family history of diabetes. We then used a frequency-matching approach and randomly selected individuals without OSA, yielding a total of 20 control men without OSA and 12 men with OSA. Indices of glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity, and insulin secretion (early phase and total) were compared between men with OSA and control subjects. The incremental areas under the glucose (incAUCglu) and insulin (incAUCins) curves were calculated using the trapezoidal method from 0 to 120 min during the OGTT.

RESULTS Men with OSA and control subjects were similar in terms of age, BMI, ethnicity-based diabetes risk, family history of diabetes, and level of exercise. Both groups had normal systolic and diastolic blood pressure and fasting lipid levels. After ingestion of a glucose load, men with OSA had 27% lower insulin sensitivity (estimated by Matsuda index) and 37% higher total insulin secretion (incAUCins) than the control subjects, despite comparable glucose levels (incAUCglu).

CONCLUSIONS In young, lean, and healthy men who are free of cardiometabolic disease, the presence of OSA is associated with insulin resistance and a compensatory rise in insulin secretion to maintain normal glucose tolerance. Thus, OSA may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes independently of traditional cardiometabolic risk factors.

  • Received May 1, 2012.
  • Accepted June 4, 2012.

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This Article

  1. Diabetes Care
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