This study aimed to identify if individuals with mild to severe alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD) are at higher risk for developing obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) than the general population.
A seven-question sleep apnea risk assessment questionnaire, STOP-BAG, was applied to 2338 participant responses from the Alpha-1 Coded Testing Study (ACT) and 4638 participant responses from the Kentucky Behavioral Risk Factor Survey (KyBRFS). Propensity scores were generated from a logistic regression model using continuous variables of age and body mass index (BMI). STOP-BAG scores were analyzed using chi-square analysis on this matched cohort to assess OSA risk in AATD.
Self-reported OSA was higher in the KyBRFS cohort (14.5%) than in individuals with mild or severe AATD (11.2%) (p = 0.012). However, a higher percentage of the AATD cohort met clinically meaningful thresholds for STOP-BAG scores ≥ 5 (22.7%) than the KyBRFS cohort (13.0%) (p = 0.001). These differences persisted despite 1:1 propensity score matching on age and BMI to account for differences in baseline characteristics. No statistically significant difference in OSA risk between AATD genotypes was found.
AATD appears to have higher risk for OSA than the general population. The 11.2% prevalence of diagnosed OSA in the AATD population is much lower than symptom scores would predict. Further studies are needed to validate the possibility that elastin loss is involved in OSA pathogenesis.