Apneas and hypopneas during sleep occur more frequently in men than women. Disordered breathing is also reported to increase in hypogonadal men following testosterone administration. This suggests a hormonal influence on sleeping respiratory pattern. We therefore studied respiratory rhythm during sleep in 11 hypogonadal males both on and off testosterone-replacement therapy. In four subjects the anatomy (computerized tomography) and airflow resistance of the upper airway were also determined on both occasions. Sleep stage distribution and duration were unchanged following androgen administration. However, both apneas and hypopneas increased significantly during testosterone replacement so that the total number of disordered breathing events (apneas + hypopneas) per hour of sleep rose from 6.4 +/- 2.1 to 15.4 +/- 7.0 (P less than 0.05). This was a highly variable event with some subjects demonstrating large increases in apneas and hypopneas when androgen was replaced, whereas others had little change in respiration during sleep. Upper airway dimensions, on the other hand, were unaffected by testosterone. These results suggest that testosterone contributes to sleep-disordered breathing through mechanisms independent of anatomic changes in the upper airway.
- Copyright © 1986 the American Physiological Society