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Relationship of redundant Th17 cells and IL-17A, but not IL-17 F, with the severity of obstructive sleep apnoea/hypopnoea syndrome (OSAHS)

Lin Ying, Hequan Li*, Zhijie Pan, Shanni Ma, Pei Zhang, Qing Wang, Guohua Lu and Jianying Zhou*

Author Affiliations

Department of Respiratory Diseases, First Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang, University School of Medicine, Zhejiang University, Zhejiang, P.R. China

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BMC Pulmonary Medicine 2014, 14:84  doi:10.1186/1471-2466-14-84

Published: 15 May 2014



The pathogenesis of obstructive sleep apnoea/hypopnoea syndrome (OSAHS), a highly prevalent disease, is not completely understood. The purpose of this study was to investigate the contributions of Th17 cells and the Th17-associated cytokines IL-17A and IL-17 F to OSAHS.


46 male patients with a clinical suspicion of OSAHS were enrolled and divided into four groups based on their polysomnography results: controls and mild, moderate, and severe OSAHS. The serum levels of IL-17A and IL-17 F were determined by enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), pulmonary arterial pressure (PAP) was determined by echocardiography, and Th17 cell frequencies in peripheral blood were measured by flow cytometry.


Serum IL-17A levels in the severe group were elevated (median value: control group 0.89 pg/ml, mild OSAHS 1.02 pg/ml, moderate OSAHS 1.18 pg/ml, and severe OSAHS 1.62 pg/ml; p < 0.05) and positively correlated with AHI (r = 0.52, p < 0.05) but negatively related to the mean O2 saturation and lowest O2 saturation (r = −0.349, p < 0.05; and r = −0.336, p < 0.05, respectively). Although the frequencies of Th17 cells in the OSAHS groups were higher than that in the control group, these differences were not significant (p = 0.275). Pulmonary arterial hypertension was not present in our patients as the median PAP of the normal control and the mild, moderate, and severe OSAHS groups were 26, 27.5, 24.5, and 25.5 mmHg, respectively (p = 0.676).


IL-17A may be involved in the pathogenesis of OSAHS and may represent a target for therapeutic intervention.

Obstructive sleep apnea hypopnea syndrome; Th17 cell; IL-17; Pulmonary arterial hypertension; Inflammation