The association between autoimmune rheumatic diseases and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is complex. Systemic inflammation secondary to OSA may underlie this association. It is possible that OSA-related inflammation may trigger the occurrence of autoimmune rheumatic disease in genetically susceptible individuals.
On the other hand, autoimmune rheumatic diseases can lead to OSA or worsen preexisting OSA. Temporomandibular joint destruction, cervical spine subluxation and brainstem compression are the factors responsible for the above observation.
Future studies are needed to clarify whether OSA is an independent risk factor for the development of autoimmune disease and whether OSA management will lead to a reduction in the incidence of autoimmune disease. On the other hand, it is important to treat autoimmune rheumatic disease promptly, to reduce the risk of complications, with OSA being one of these.
Keywords: Autoimmunity, comorbidity, rheumatic disease, sleep apnea, systemic inflammation, upper airway.