Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a prevalent condition and strongly associated with metabolic disorders. Sleep fragmentation (SF) is a major consequence of OSA, but its contribution to OSA-related morbidities is not known. We hypothesized that SF causes specific perturbations in transcriptional networks of visceral fat cells, leading to systemic metabolic disturbances. We simultaneously profiled visceral adipose tissue mRNA and miRNA expression in mice exposed to 6 hours of SF during sleep, and developed a new computational framework based on gene set enrichment and network analyses to merge these data. This approach leverages known gene product interactions and biologic pathways to interrogate large-scale gene expression profiling data. We found that SF induced the activation of several distinct pathways, including those involved in insulin regulation and diabetes. Our integrative methodology identified putative controllers and regulators of the metabolic response during SF. We functionally validated our findings by demonstrating altered glucose and lipid homeostasis in sleep-fragmented mice. This is the first study to link sleep fragmentation with widespread disruptions in visceral adipose tissue transcriptome, and presents a generalizable approach to integrate mRNA-miRNA information for systematic mapping of regulatory networks.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)