Obstructive sleep apneas naturally occur in mice during REM sleep and are more prevalent in a mouse model of Down syndrome


Study Objectives. The use of mouse models in sleep apnea research is limited by the belief that central (CSA) but not obstructive sleep apneas (OSA) occur in rodents. With this study we wanted to develop a protocol to look for the presence of OSAs in wild-type mice and, then, to apply it to a mouse model of Down Syndrome (DS), a human pathology characterized by a high incidence of OSAs. Methods. Nine C57Bl/6J wild-type mice were implanted with electrodes for electroencephalography (EEG), neck electromyography (nEMG), diaphragmatic activity (DIA) and then placed in a whole-body-plethysmographic (WBP) chamber for 8h during the resting (light) phase to simultaneously record sleep and breathing activity. The concomitant analysis of WBP and DIA signals allowed the discrimination between CSA and OSA. The same protocol was then applied to 12 Ts65Dn mice (a validated model of DS) and 14 euploid controls. Results. OSAs represented about half of the apneic events recorded during rapid-eye-movement sleep (REMS) in each experimental group while almost only CSAs were found during non-REMS. Ts65Dn mice had similar rate of apneic events than euploid controls but a significantly higher occurrence of OSAs during REMS. Conclusions. We demonstrated for the first time that mice physiologically exhibit both CSAs and OSAs and that the latter are more prevalent in the Ts65Dn mouse model of DS. These findings indicate that mice can be used as a valid tool to accelerate the comprehension of the pathophysiology of all kind of sleep apnea and for the development of new therapeutical approaches to contrast these respiratory disorders

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