Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), obesity, and disturbed glucose homeostasis are usually considered distinct clinical condition, although they are tightly related to each other. The aim of our manuscript is to provide an overview of the current evidence on OSA, obesity, and disturbed glucose homeostasis providing epidemiologic evidence, biological insights, and therapeutic strategies.
The mechanisms hypothesized to be involved in this complex interplay are the following: (1) “direct weight-dependent” mechanisms, according to which fat excess compromises respiratory mechanics, and (2) “indirect weight-dependent” mechanisms such as hyperglycemia, insulin resistance and secondary hyperinsulinemia, leptin resistance and other hormonal dysregulations frequently found in subjects with obesity, type 2 diabetes, and/or sleep disorders. Moreover, the treatment of each of these clinical conditions, through weight loss induced by diet or bariatric surgery, the use of anti-obesity or antidiabetic drugs, and continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), seems to positively influence the others. These recent data suggest not only that there are multiple connections among these diseases but also that treating one of them may result in an improvement of the others.