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Open Access Hypothesis

Nonalcoholic fatty pancreatic disease and cardio-metabolic risk: is there is a place for obstructive sleep apnea?

Aibek E Mirrakhimov

Author Affiliations

Kyrgyz State Medical Academy named by I.K. Akhunbaev, Akhunbaev street 92, Bishkek 720020, Kyrgyzstan

Cardiovascular Diabetology 2014, 13:29  doi:10.1186/1475-2840-13-29

Published: 30 January 2014

Abstract

Background

Obstructive sleep apnea is a common disorder acting as a risk factor for the development and progression of cardiometabolic derangements including non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Recent research data suggest that non-alcoholic fatty pancreatic disease may be a more sensitive marker than non-alcoholic fatty liver disease for early subclinical metabolic risk and may contribute to the progression of subclinical disease to overt type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Presentation of the hypothesis

We postulate that obstructive sleep apnea may be a risk factor for non-alcoholic fatty pancreatic disease. It is well known that intermittent hypoxia related to obstructive sleep apnea leads to hormonal derangements. Excessive lipolysis, enhanced lipid synthesis and systemic and local inflammation may favor ectopic fat deposition similarly to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Furthermore, it is possible that obstructive sleep apnea can lead to pancreatic beta cell damage via intermittent hypoxia.

Testing of the hypothesis

Future research should focus on the following: first, whether non-alcoholic fatty pancreatic disease is an independent risk factor for the development of metabolic disease including diabetes mellitus or is a simple consequence of obesity; second, the prevalence of non-alcoholic fatty pancreatic disease among people with obstructive sleep apnea and vice versa, which should be compared to the prevalence of these diseases in general population; third, whether coexistence of these conditions is related to greater cardiometabolic risk than either disease alone; and fourth, whether the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea will translate into the resolution of non-alcoholic fatty pancreatic disease.

Implications of the hypothesis

If proven, this hypothesis will provide new knowledge on the complex interplay between various metabolic insults. Second, screening for NAFPD may identify individuals at risk for developing type 2 diabetes mellitus for targeted prevention. Third, screening for the presence of non-alcoholic fatty pancreatic disease in patients with obstructive sleep apnea may help to decrease the incidence of diabetes mellitus through a targeted prevention.

Keywords:
Obstructive sleep apnea; Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; Non-alcoholic fatty pancreatic disease; Cardiometabolic risk; Pancreatitis; Pancreatic cancer