Researchers from UCLA are the first to provide evidence that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) contributes to a breakdown of the blood–brain barrier (BBB), which plays an important role in protecting brain tissue.
The blood–brain barrier limits harmful bacteria, infections and chemicals from reaching the brain. A compromised blood-brain barrier function is associated with significant brain damage in stroke, epilepsy, meningitis, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions.
OSA is a disorder that causes frequent interruptions in breathing during sleep because the airways narrow or become blocked. The BBB becomes more ‘leaky’ which could contribute to brain damage, or potentially enhance or accelerate the damage.