Gray matter (GM) anomalies may represent a critical pathology underlying obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). However, the evidence regarding their clinical relevance is inconsistent. We conducted a meta-analysis of voxel-based morphometry (VBM) studies of patients with OSA to identify their brain abnormalities. A systematic search was conducted based on PRISMA guidelines, and a meta-analysis was performed using the anisotropic effect-size-based algorithms (ASE-SDM) to quantitatively estimate regional GM changes in patients with OSA. Fifteen studies with 16 datasets comprising 353 untreated patients with OSA and 444 healthy controls were included. Our results revealed GM reductions in the bilateral anterior cingulate/paracingulate gyri (ACG/ApCG), left cerebellum (lobules IV/V and VIII), bilateral superior frontal gyrus (SFG, medial rostral part), right middle temporal gyrus (MTG), and right premotor cortex. Moreover, GM reductions in the bilateral ACG/ApCG were positively associated with body mass index (BMI) and age among patients with OSA, and GM reductions in the SFG (medial rostral part) were negatively associated with Epworth sleepiness scale (ESS) scores and sex (male). These abnormalities may represent structural brain underpinnings of neurocognitive abnormalities and respiratory-related abnormalities in OSA. In particular, this study adds to Psychoradiology, which is a promising subspecialty of clinical radiology mainly for psychiatric disorders.
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