Sleep-Disordered Breathing and Sleep Disruption Accelerate Aging

Each standard deviation increase in the apnea-hypoxia index (AHI) was associated with a 215-day (7 months) acceleration of epigenetic aging. Similarly, each standard deviation increase in the arousal index was associated with a 321-day acceleration in epigenetic aging. Epigenetic age acceleration was measured with DNA methylation-based markers. These associations were stronger in the female participants compared with male participants.

“People's biological age might not be the same as their chronological age,” said lead author Xiaoyu Li, ScD, 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 TH Chan School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts. “Individuals whose biological age is higher than their chronological age exhibit age acceleration or fast aging. In our study, we found that more severe sleep-disordered breathing is associated with epigenetic age acceleration. Our data provide biological evidence supporting adverse physiological and health effects of untreated sleep-disordered breathing.”

“Since sleep-disordered breathing is not only common and treatable, but often undiagnosed and under-treated, our data highlight the potential for sleep-disordered breathing treatment to improve age-related chronic conditions and longevity,” said Li. “Because epigenetic changes are reversible, epigenetic age estimators may be useful for identifying and validating anti-aging interventions.”

The research abstract was published recently in an online supplement of the journal Sleep and presented at SLEEP 2019, the 33rd annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC (APSS), which is a joint venture of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society.

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