Biomedical Sciences ETDs


John Alcock

Publication Date



Background: Patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) suffer from increased mortality because of complications from metabolic and cardiovascular disease. Excess sympathetic nervous activity and catecholamine exposure contribute to the disease associations of OSA, but the underlying mechanism remains enigmatic. Because catecholamines cause overgrowth of bacteria in the class Enterobacteriaceae in the laboratory, this translational study proposed a role for altered gut microbiota in the complications of OSA. Objectives: We tested the hypothesis that catecholamine excess in disordered sleep alters intestinal microbiota by comparing urinary catecholamines and the fecal microbiome of 24 patients with obstructive sleep apnea and 23 controls. Results: Next-generation sequencing of the gut microbiome using the Illumina platform provided evidence for a trend toward altered community structure of gut microbiota in patients with sleep apnea. A positive linear relationship was seen in norepinephrine exposure and Enterobacteriaceae in patients with sleep apnea, but no such relationship occurred in controls. Conclusions: These findings provide preliminary support for a central role of gut microbiota in the complications of sleep.


Microbiota, Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Catecholamines, Inflammation, Metabolism


University of New Mexico Clinical and Translational Science Center Pilot Project Award

Document Type




Degree Name

Biomedical Sciences

Level of Degree


Department Name

Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program

First Committee Member (Chair)

Shuttleworth, William

Second Committee Member

Villareal, Dennis

Third Committee Member

Lin, Henry