Obstructive sleep apnea risk, asthma burden, and lower airway inflammation in adults in the severe asthma research program (SARP) II

for the National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute Severe Asthma Research Program (SARP) Investigators

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may worsen asthma, but large studies are lacking and the underlying mechanisms are unknown. OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence of OSA risk among patients with asthma of different severity compared with normal controls (NC), and among asthmatics, to test the relationship of OSA risk with asthma burden and airway inflammation. METHODS: Subjects with severe (SA, n = 94) and nonsevere asthma (NSA, n = 161), and NC (n = 146) were recruited in an add-on substudy, to the observational Severe Asthma Research Program (SARP) II; subjects completed sleep quality, sleepiness and OSA risk (Sleep Apnea scale of the Sleep Disorders Questionnaire [SA-SDQ]) questionnaires, and clinical assessments. Sputum was induced in a subset of asthmatics. RESULTS: Relative to NC, despite similar sleep duration, the subjects with SA and NSA had worse sleep quality, were sleepier, and had higher SA-SDQ scores. Among asthmatics, higher SA-SDQ was associated with increased asthma symptoms, ß-agonist use, health care utilization, and worse asthma quality of life. A significant association of SA-SDQ with sputum polymorphonuclear cells% was noted: each increase in SA-SDQ by its standard deviation (6.85 units) was associated with a rise in % sputum neutrophils of 7.78 (95% CI 2.33-13.22, P =.0006), independent of obesity and other confounders. CONCLUSIONS: OSA symptoms are more prevalent among asthmatics, in whom they are associated with higher disease burden. OSA risk is associated with a neutrophilic airway inflammation in asthma, which suggests that OSA may be an important contributor to the neutrophilic asthma. Further studies are necessary to confirm these findings and better understand the mechanistic underpinnings of this relationship.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)566-575.e1
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Airway inflammation
  • Asthma
  • Obstructive
  • Sleep apnea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy


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