Chemoreceptors, baroreceptors, and autonomic deregulation in children with obstructive sleep apnea

David Gozal, Fahed Hakim, Leila Kheirandish-Gozal

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is highly prevalent sleep disorder of breathing in both adults and children that is fraught with substantial cardiovascular morbidities, the latter being attributable to a complex interplay between intermittent hypoxia (IH), episodic hypercapnia, recurrent large intra-thoracic pressure swings, and sleep disruption. Alterations in autonomic nervous system function could underlie the perturbations in cardiovascular, neurocognitive, immune, endocrine and metabolic functions that affect many of the patients suffering from OSA. Although these issues have received substantial attention in adults, the same has thus far failed to occur in children, creating a quasi misperception that children are protected. Here, we provide a critical overview of the evidence supporting the presence of autonomic nervous system (ANS) perturbations in children with OSA, draw some parallel assessments to known mechanisms in rodents and adult humans, particularly, peripheral and central chemoreceptor and baroreceptor pathways, and suggest future research directions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-185
Number of pages9
JournalRespiratory Physiology and Neurobiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2012 Elsevier B.V.


DG is supported by National Institutes of Health grants HL-065270 , HL-086662 , and P50 HL107160 , and LKG is supported by NIH grant K12 HL-090003 .

FundersFunder number
National Institutes of HealthHL-086662, P50 HL107160, K12 HL-090003
National Heart, Lung, and Blood InstituteR01HL065270


    • Autonomic nervous system
    • Brainstem
    • Carotid body
    • Catecholamines
    • Hypoxia
    • Obstructive sleep apnea
    • Parasympathetic
    • Peripheral chemoreceptors
    • Pulse transit time
    • Sleep fragmentation
    • Sympathetic
    • Tonometry
    • Vagus


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