A Case of Concomitant Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis Treated With CPAP Therapy

Bharat Bajantri, Dmitry Lvovsky


Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome is a disorder of sleep breathing that is a result of recurrent and intermittent hypoxia during sleep induced by the repeated partial or complete collapse of the upper airway, eventually causing chronic intermittent hypoxia. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is divided into non-alcoholic fatty liver and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. Animal and human studies showed that obesity is associated with chronic liver hypoxia, even in the presence of systemic normoxia causing inflammation and release of cytokines. A “two-hit” model has been proposed. The first hit is characterized by insulin resistance and excess hepatic lipid accumulation secondary to abnormal fatty acid metabolism. Oxidative stress and inflammation are thought to comprise the second hit. Gold standard for the diagnosis of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis is a liver biopsy. Many clinical scores and non-invasive tools are used for the diagnosis of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. Conservative management with lifestyle modifications including diet, exercise and weight loss remains the therapy of choice today. We present a case report of a 39-year-old man who was diagnosed with concomitant non-alcoholic steatohepatitis and severe obstructive sleep apnea. He was started treatment with continuous positive airway pressure and demonstrated excellent adherence to therapy for 6 years, with concomitant obstructive sleep apnea and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis which reversed with prolonged optimal continuous positive airway pressure therapy. Physical examination remained unremarkable except for morbid obesity. His abdominal girth, as well as body mass index, remained unchanged. After 6 years of optimal continuous positive airway pressure therapy, liver enzymes and relevant lipid panel normalized, suggesting reversal of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis.

Gastroenterol Res. 2018;11(3):252-259
doi: https://doi.org/10.14740/gr1033w


Obstructive sleep apnea; Fatty liver; Non-alcoholic liver disease; Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis; Continuous positive airway pressure; Metabolic syndrome

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