Jun 24, 2019 | Updated: 08:43 AM EDT

Research Connects Sleep-Disordered Breathing to Age Acceleration

Jun 07, 2019 02:09 PM EDT

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Research Connects Sleep-Disordered Breathing to Age Acceleration
(Photo : Image by Warintr Watanakun from Pixabay)

In a preliminary of a new study, increasing severity of sleep-disordered breathing and sleep disruption are connected with epigenetic age acceleration. The findings of the research revealed that each standard deviation increase in the apnea-hypopnea index, a measure of sleep-disordered breathing severity, was linked with the equivalent of 215 days of biological age acceleration. Similarly, each standard deviation increase in the arousal index, a measure of sleep disruption, was connected with the equivalent of 321 days of age acceleration.

The lead author of the study is Xiayu Li, Sc.D., a postdoctoral research fellow in the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders in the Department of Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts. Li said that people's biological age might not be the same as their chronological age. Individual whose biological age is higher than their chronological age exhibit age acceleration or accelerated aging. In their research, they discovered that more severe sleep-disordered breathing is connected with epigenetic age acceleration. Their data offered biological evidence supporting adverse physiological and health effects of untreated sleep-disordered breathing.

The author of the study noted that epigenetic age acceleration is a DNA methylation-based marker of accelerated biological aging, and it is linked with modifiable lifestyle factors. While sleep-disordered breathing is associated with multiple age-related health disorders, its relationship with epigenetic aging has not been well studied.

The research did a survey that involved 622 adults with a mean age of 69 years; 53.2 percent were women. Participants were measured for blood DNA methylation, and their sleep was evaluated at home by polysomnography. Age acceleration measures were calculated as residuals from the regression of each epigenetic age on chronological age. The relationship of each sleep-disordered breathing trait with age acceleration was estimated using linear regression, controlling for socio-demographics, health behaviors, body mass index, and study site.

Another surprising result was that the connections were stronger in women than in men, suggesting that women may be particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of sleep-disordered breathing.

Li explained that while women are often considered to be at lower risk for health outcomes related to sleep-disordered breathing, their findings suggest increased biological susceptibility.

In the suggestion of the authors, future work should focus on whether treatment reduces epigenetic age acceleration among people who have sleep-disordered breathing.

Taking it further, Li said that since sleep-disordered breathing is not only common and treatable but often undiagnosed and under-treated, their data highlight the potential for sleep-disordered breathing treatment to improve age-related chronic conditions and longevity. Since epigenetic changes are reversible, epigenetic age estimations may be useful for identifying validating and validating anti-aging interventions.

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