Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a highly prevalent disease which carries substantial public health burden. Polysomnography is the standard procedure used to diagnose OSA. However cost, accessibility, technical requirements, and skilled interpretation needs constrain its widespread use and have a role in the under-diagnosis of sleep disordered breathing. There is a clinical need to develop expedient and widely accessible tools to detect this disorder., Several biochemical markers have recently been proposed as diagnostic tools in OSA. Numerous neurochemicals directly influence the activity of upper airway dilator motor neurons, which subsequently influence respiration during sleep. Serotonin (5-HT) is one such neurochemical that has a key role in ventilatory stimulation. Herein, we review the current evidence demonstrating relationships between multiple biomarkers and sleep disordered breathing and focus on relationships between OSA and 5-HT. We discuss the possibility of biomarker-driven detection technology in the future as a means of diagnosing and monitoring OSA. Finally, we explore the specific role 5-HT may have in the future in both the diagnosis and treatment of OSA.
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