Arousal responses to respiratory events during sleep: The role of pulse wave amplitude

Marcello Bosi, Giulia Milioli, Silvia Riccardi, Andrea Melpignano, Anna E. Vaudano, Pietro Cortelli, Venerino Poletti, Liborio Parrino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The study aims at assessing the changes in electroencephalography (as measured by the A-phases of cyclic alternating pattern) and autonomic activity (based on pulse wave amplitude) at the recovery of airway patency in patients with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. Analysis of polysomnographic recordings from 20 male individuals with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome was carried out in total sleep time, non-rapid eye movement and rapid eye movement sleep. Scoring quantified the combined occurrence (time range of 4 s before and 4 s after respiratory recovery) or separate occurrence of A-phases (cortical activation), and pulse wave amplitude drops (below 30%) to apneas, hypopneas or flow limitation events. A dual response (A-phase associated with a pulse wave amplitude drop) was the most frequent response (71.8% in total sleep time) for all types of respiratory events, with a progressive reduction from apneas to hypopneas and flow limitation events. The highly significant correlation in total sleep time (r = 0.9351; P < 0.0001) between respiratory events combined with A-phases and respiratory events combined with pulse wave amplitude drops was confirmed both in non-rapid eye movement (r = 0.9622; P < 0.0001) and rapid eye movement sleep (r = 0.7162; P < 0.0006). In conclusion, a dual cortical and autonomic activation is the most common manifestation at the recovery of airway patency. The significant correlation between A-phases and relevant pulse wave amplitude drops suggests a possible role of pulse wave amplitude as a marker of cerebral response to respiratory events.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Sleep Research
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2017


  • Arousal
  • Finger plethysmography
  • Portable monitoring

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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