Now that cost-effective epigenetic age assessment is a going concern, we will see all sorts of interesting correlations, such as the one noted here in patients with obstructive sleep apnea, before and after treatment. Since it remains unclear as to what exactly is being measured by epigenetic age, which aspects of aging and consequent metabolic dysfunction contribute to the outcome, a good deal of speculation is involved when thinking about why and how what is known of the consequences of sleep apnea relates to what is known of degenerative aging.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) affects 22 million people in the U.S. and is linked to a higher risk of hypertension, heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, and many other chronic conditions. Age acceleration testing involves a blood test that analyzes DNA and uses an algorithm to measure a person's biological age. The phenomenon of a person's biological age surpassing their chronological age is called "epigenetic age acceleration", and is linked to overall mortality and to chronic diseases.
Researchers studied 16 adult nonsmokers who were diagnosed with OSA and compared them to eight control subjects without the condition to assess the impact of OSA on epigenetic age acceleration over a one-year period. After a baseline blood test, the OSA group received continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment for one year before being tested again.
"Our results found that OSA-induced sleep disruptions and lower oxygen levels during sleep promoted faster biological age acceleration compared to the control group. However, the OSA patients who adhered to CPAP showed a deceleration of the epigenetic age, while the age acceleration trends did not change for the control group. Our results suggest that biological age acceleration is at least partially reversible when effective treatment of OSA is implemented."