Reduced ventilatory control stability (elevated loop gain) is a key nonanatomical, pathological trait contributing to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), yet the mechanisms responsible remain unclear. We sought to identify the key factors contributing to elevated loop gain in OSA (controller vs. plant contributions) and to examine whether abnormalities in these factors persist after OSA treatment. In 15 males (8 OSA, 7 height, weight- and age -matched controls), we measured loop gain, controller gain, and plant gain using a pseudorandom binary CO2 stimulation method during wakefulness. Factors potentially influencing plant gain were also assessed (supine lung volume via helium dilution and spirometry). Measures were repeated 2 and 6 wk after initiating continuous positive airway pressure treatment. Loop gain (LG) was higher in OSA versus controls (LG at 1 cycle/min 0.28 0.04 vs. 0.16 0.04, P 0.046, respectively), and the controller exhibited a greater peak response to CO2 and faster roll-off in OSA. OSA patients also exhibited reduced forced expiratory volume in the first second and forced vital capacity compared with controls (92.2 1.7 vs. 102.9 3.5% predicted, P 0.021; 93.4 3.1 vs. 106.6 3.6% predicted, P 0.015, respectively). There was no effect of treatment on any variable. These findings confirm loop gain is higher in untreated OSA patients than in matched controls; however, this was not affected by treatment. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Elevated loop gain contributes to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) pathophysiology. However, whether loop gain is inherently elevated in OSA or induced by OSA itself, whether it is elevated due to increased chemoreflex sensitivity or obesity-dependent reduced lung volume, and whether it is treatment reversible, are all currently uncertain. This study found loop gain was elevated in OSA versus age-, sex-, height-, and weight-matched controls. However, this was not altered by 6-wk continuous positive airway pressure treatment.
- obstructive sleep apnea
- loop gain
- Loop gain
- Continuous positive airway pressure
- Obstructive sleep apnea