Background and Aim:

Hypoxia, a major feature of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), modifies Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) and Insulin-like Growth Factor Binding Protein-3 (IGFBP-3) levels, which contribute to atherogenesis and occurrence of cardiovascular (CV) events. We assessed and compared serum levels of VEGF and IGFBP-3 in newly diagnosed OSA patients and controls, to explore associations with anthropometric and sleep parameters and to study the effect of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment on these levels.

Materials and Methods:

Serum levels of VEGF and IGFBP-3 were measured in 65 OSA patients and 31 age- and body mass index- matched controls. In OSA patients, measurements were repeated after 6 months of CPAP therapy. All participants were non-smokers, without any comorbidities or systemic medication use.


At baseline, serum VEGF levels in OSA patients were higher compared with controls (p<0.001), while IGFBP-3 levels were lower (1.41±0.56 vs. 1.61±0.38 μg/ml, p=0.039). VEGF levels correlated with apnea-hypopnea index (r=0.336, p=0.001) and oxygen desaturation index (r=0.282, p=0.007). After 6 months on CPAP treatment, VEGF levels decreased in OSA patients (p<0.001), while IGFBP-3 levels increased (p<0.001).


In newly diagnosed OSA patients, serum levels of VEGF are elevated, while IGFBP-3 levels are low. After 6 months of CPAP treatment these levels change. These results may reflect an increased CV risk in untreated OSA patients, which is ameliorated after CPAP therapy.

Keywords: Continuous positive airway pressure, hypoxia, insulin-like growth factor binding protein-3, obstructive sleep apnea, vascular endothelial growth factor, treatment.
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