Friday, February 5, 2010

Targeting Tonsils to Treat Child Sleep Apnea

A new study examined the genetic basis of enlarged tonsils in children with obstructive sleep apnea.

study involved 18 children with OSA. They were compared with 18 children who had recurrent tonsillar infections. All of the children had surgery to remove their tonsils. Then the tonsil tissue from each child was analyzed.

"We found that in the tonsil tissues of children with OSA, certain genes and gene networks were over expressed," study co-author Dr. David Gozal said in a
news release.

They found that children with OSA had higher levels of a protein called phosphoserine phosphatase (PSPH). This protein almost never appeared in the tonsils of the children who did not have OSA.

Then they experimented with a phosphatase inhibitor to block this protein. It reduced the cell proliferation and increased programmed cell death.

"Together, these observations suggest that PSPH is a logical therapeutic target in reversing adenotonsillar enlargement in pediatric OSA," said Gozal.

Recently Gozal
reported that the urine concentrations of certain proteins were altered in children with OSA. The results suggested that a urine teat may be able to detect sleep apnea in children.

reports that about two percent of healthy young children have OSA. It occurs when soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses and blocks the airway during sleep.

Most children with OSA have a history of loud snoring. This may include obvious pauses in breathing and gasps for breath. Parents often notice that the child seems to be working hard to breathe during sleep.

Last year the Sleep Education Blog reported that the causes of sleep apnea in children are complex. Sleep apnea often occurs when a child has large tonsils and adenoids. But weight and nasal problems also can play a role.

Removing the tonsils is a common treatment for sleep apnea in children. But some children may continue to have OSA even after the procedure.

Read more about obstructive sleep apnea in children. Get help at an AASM-accredited sleep center near you.

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