Tumor necrosis factor alpha is a promising circulating biomarker for the development of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome: a meta-analysis

Qingsheng Li and Xin Zheng _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:27616-27626. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.15203

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Qingsheng Li1 and Xin Zheng2

1 Department of Emergency Pediatrics, The First Affiliated Hospital of Fujian Medical University, Fuzhou, China

2 Department of Basic Medicine, Fujian Health Collage, Fuzhou, China

Correspondence to:

Xin Zheng, email:

Keywords: obstructive sleep apnea syndrome; tumor necrosis factor alpha; meta-analysis; mean difference

Received: December 21, 2016 Accepted: January 27, 2017 Published: February 08, 2017


Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) is a chronic inflammatory disorder. The relationship between tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) and OSAS has been widely evaluated, but the results thus far remain inconclusive. We thereby decided to quantify the changes of TNF-alpha between OSAS patients and controls by a meta-analysis. This study complies with the MOOSE guidelines. Two reviewers independently searched articles and abstracted relevant data. In total, 47 articles (59 studies) were analyzed, including 2857 OSAS patients and 2115 controls. Overall, OSAS patients had a significantly higher level of circulating TNF-alpha than controls (weighted mean difference [WMD]: 9.66 pg/mL, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 8.66 to 11.24, P<0.001), but with significant heterogeneity (I2: 99.7%). After adjusting for potential missing studies, the overall estimate was weakened but still significant (filled WMD: 2.63 pg/mL, 95% CI: 2.56 to 2.70, P<0.001). When studies were stratified by OSAS severity, the changes in circulating TNF-alpha between patients and controls increased gradually with the more severe grades of OSAS. In patients with mild, mild-to-moderate, moderate, moderate-to-severe and severe OSAS, circulating TNF-alpha was higher than respective controls by 0.99, 1.48. 7.79, 10.08 and 8.85 pg/mL, with significant heterogeneity (I2: 91.2%, 74.5%, 97.6%, 99.0% and 98.1%). In conclusion, our findings demonstrated that circulating TNF-alpha was significantly higher in OSAS patients than in controls, and this difference became more pronounced with the more severe grades of OSAS, indicating that TNF-alpha might be a promising circulating biomarker for the development of OSAS.

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