Muscle fibre type and obstructive sleep apnea

Luigi Ferini-Strambi, Salvatore Smirne, Ugo Moz, Barbara Sferrazza, Sandro Iannaccone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Muscular pharyngeal structural changes, as fibre type disproportion, have been described in patients affected by Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and in an animal experimental OSA model. The unsolved question is whether these muscular abnormalities are either secondary to a compensatory increased activity or due to a constitutionally determined reduction of slow-alpha motor neurons. In the present study Medium Pharyngeal Constrictor Muscles (MPCM) of OSA (n = 13) and nonOSA (n = 9) patients have been morphologically evaluated. In addition a needle biopsy of Vastus Lateralis Muscle (VLM) was performed in 5 randomly selected patients of each group. Our results confirmed a specific fibre type disproportion of MPCM of OSA patients compared to non-OSA ones with a type II predominance and aspecific myopathic changes such as fibrosis and central nuclei. No difference was found in the VLM of the two groups. This finding could be explained by a secondary adaptive transformation consequent to nocturnal upper airway resistance in OSA. In fact, it has been demonstrated in human muscle that heavy-resistance training may produce preferential type II fibre hypertrophy in stimulated muscle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-27
Number of pages4
JournalSleep Research Online
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology


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