Daily Mail

Hor­mone spray helps blast away chronic snor­ing


ASpRAy squirted up the nose could be a new treat­ment for sleep ap­noea, a lead­ing cause of snor­ing. the spray con­tains a hor­mone called lep­tin, which is thought to reg­u­late breath­ing. in a re­cent study in mice, sci­en­tists at Johns Hop­kins Univer­sity in the U.S. found those that re­ceived a sin­gle squirt of lep­tin ex­pe­ri­enced less snor­ing-re­lated sleep dis­rup­tion dur­ing the night. they are now plan­ning hu­man tri­als.

Sleep ap­noea af­fects mil­lions in Bri­tain. it oc­curs when throat tis­sue col­lapses re­peat­edly dur­ing sleep, block­ing the air­way for ten sec­onds or more.

As well as dis­turb­ing sleep, the con­di­tion, if left un­treated, can raise the risk of se­ri­ous long-term prob­lems such as heart dis­ease. When the air­way is shut off, oxy­gen lev­els in the body fall. the brain then sends a mes­sage to blood ves­sels to tighten up in or­der to im­prove blood flow to the heart and brain — in­stantly driv­ing up blood pres­sure. if this hap­pens reg­u­larly, blood pres­sure tends to re­main raised in the day, too, in­creas­ing the risk of a stroke or heart at­tack. treat­ment in­volves con­tin­u­ous pos­i­tive air­way pres­sure, where the sleep­ing pa­tient wears a face mask which de­liv­ers pres­surised air to pre­vent tis­sue col­laps­ing and the air­way clos­ing. this is ef­fec­tive, but some peo­ple find the mask cum­ber­some and re­search sug­gests nearly a third of pa­tients never use it.

Sci­en­tists hope the lep­tin spray could be an ef­fec­tive al­ter­na­tive.

Lep­tin is best known as one of the body’s ‘ hunger hor­mones’. it is re­leased by fat cells, pre­dom­i­nantly in the ab­domen, and tells the brain when the stom­ach is full. BUt

in re­cent years sci­en­tists have also dis­cov­ered the hor­mone plays an im­por­tant role in other vi­tal func­tions — in­clud­ing breath­ing.

Re­search shows lep­tin is in­volved in the de­vel­op­ment of lungs dur­ing child­hood and ado­les­cence, and its pres­ence in the lungs stim­u­lates the breath­ing process.

Re­searchers were drawn to in­ves­ti­gate whether it could help snor­ers, as sleep ap­noea is a breath­ing-re­lated dis­or­der. Lep­tin is thought to work by strength­en­ing the re­flexes of mus­cles in the col­lapsed air­way, mak­ing them con­tract more ef­fec­tively. this opens up the air­way, re­duc­ing the num­ber of ap­noea episodes.

in a study, mice were fed a high­fat diet for four months, and one group was given the lep­tin spray up the nose. they were then mon­i­tored for a few days.

the re­sults, pub­lished in the Amer­i­can Jour­nal of Re­s­pi­ra­tory and crit­i­cal care Medicine, showed the mice given lep­tin in­haled more air into their lungs dur­ing the night, and ex­pe­ri­enced less snor­ing-re­lated sleep dis­rup­tion.

Blood oxy­gen lev­els — a mea­sure of how much air is in­haled — were 40 per cent higher in the lep­tin group than in the mice not given the hor­mone.

the U.S. sci­en­tists say they are set­ting up hu­man tri­als. if suc­cess­ful, the nasal spray could be avail­able as a treat­ment within the next three to five years.

Dr neil Stan­ley, an in­de­pen­dent sleep ex­pert and a mem­ber of the Bri­tish Sleep So­ci­ety, says that although the re­search found lep­tin ap­peared to in­crease oxy­gen in­take in mice, there is no guar­an­tee it will have the same ef­fect in hu­mans. ‘there is a long way to go be­fore this could be con­sid­ered a vi­able treat­ment for sleep ap­noea,’ he says.

 ?? Pic­ture: GETTY ??
Pic­ture: GETTY

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