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Mouse Study Finds Circadian Rhythm-Related Gene Expression Changes Linked to Sleep Apnea

Researchers reporting in PLOS Biology present findings from a transcriptome sequencing analysis of several tissue and organ types tested over time in mouse models of obstructive sleep apnea. The team, led by Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and University of Cincinnati College of Medicine investigators, used RNA sequencing to profile gene expression, transcription factor targets, and microRNAs in liver, lung, kidney, muscle, heart, and cerebellum samples collected over the course of 24 hours in the mouse model, highlighting tissue-specific changes associated with the intermittent hypoxia that occurs during obstructive sleep apnea. "The mechanisms that become dysregulated after periods of exposure to [intermittent hypoxia] are unclear, particularly in the early stages of disease," the authors explain. Among other findings, for example, they found that "transcriptomic changes within cardiopulmonary tissues were more affected by [intermittent hypoxia] than other tissues," while the study's results more broadly "demonstrate a relationship between early exposure to [intermittent hypoxia] and changes in specific physiological outcomes."