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Mediators of Inflammation
Volume 2012, Article ID 815308, 11 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/815308
Research Article

The Treg/Th17 Imbalance in Patients with Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Syndrome

1Sleep Disorders Centre and Department of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery, The Third Affiliated Hospital, Sun Yat-sen University, 600 Tianhe Street, Guangzhou, Guangdong 510630, China
2Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care, Department of Internal Medicine, The Third Affiliated Hospital, Sun Yat-sen University, 600 Tianhe Street, Guangzhou, Guangdong 510630, China
3Sleep Disorders Centre, The Third Affiliated Hospital, Sun Yat-sen University, 600 Tianhe Street, Guangzhou, Guangdong 510630, China

Received 8 October 2012; Accepted 10 December 2012

Academic Editor: Fábio Santos Lira

Copyright © 2012 Jin Ye et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome (OSAS) is a chronic inflammatory disease regulated by T lymphocytes. Our purpose is to assess the pattern of Th17 cells and CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ regulatory T (Treg) cells in peripheral blood of patients with OSAS. Fourty-four OSAS men and 20 healthy volunteers were enrolled. Twenty-three patients were classified into mild to moderate group and 21 cases were classified into severe group according to the severity of OSAS. We detected the frequencies of Th17 and Treg and related serum cytokines secretion and expressions of key transcription factors. OSAS patients revealed significant increase in peripheral Th17 number, Th17-related cytokines (IL-17 and IL-6), and RORγt mRNA levels. They also presented a significant decrease in Treg number, Treg-related cytokines (TGF-β1), and Foxp3 mRNA levels as compared with normal persons. As a result, the Th17/Treg ratios were markedly more upregulated in OSAS patients than those in control group. Furthermore, the Th17/Treg ratio was positively related to the severity of OSAS and serum levels of C-reactive protein. The development of OSAS may be associated with peripheral Th17/Treg imbalance and characterized by a proinflammatory cytokine microenvironment. These results opened an alternative explanation for the substantial activation of immune cells in OSAS and the development of related complications.