We enrolled 26 patients with OSA and 30 healthy controls. They underwent three-dimensional T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) on a 3 T MRI scanner. The limbic structures were analyzed volumetrically using the FreeSurfer program. We examined the intrinsic limbic network using the Brain Analysis with Graph Theory program and compared the groups' limbic structure volumes and intrinsic limbic network.
There were significant differences in specific limbic structure volumes between the groups. The volumes in the right amygdala, right hippocampus, right hypothalamus, right nucleus accumbens, left amygdala, left basal forebrain, left hippocampus, left hypothalamus, and left nucleus accumbens in patients with OSA were lower than those in healthy controls (right amygdala, 0.102 vs. 0.113%, p = 0.004; right hippocampus, 0.253 vs. 0.281%, p = 0.002; right hypothalamus, 0.028 vs. 0.032%, p = 0.002; right nucleus accumbens, 0.021 vs. 0.024%, p = 0.019; left amygdala, 0.089 vs. 0.098%, p = 0.007; left basal forebrain, 0.020 vs. 0.022%, p = 0.027; left hippocampus, 0.245 vs. 0.265%, p = 0.021; left hypothalamus, 0.028 vs. 0.031%, p = 0.016; left nucleus accumbens, 0.023 vs. 0.027%, p = 0.002). However, there were no significant differences in network measures between the groups.
We demonstrate that the volumes of several limbic structures in patients with OSA are significantly lower than those in healthy controls. However, there are no alterations to the intrinsic limbic network. These findings suggest that OSA is one of the risk factors for cognitive impairments.