Author Date

2021-08-10

Degree Name

BS

Department

Microbiology and Molecular Biology

College

Life Sciences

Defense Date

2021-07-21

Publication Date

2021-08-11

First Faculty Advisor

Dr. Steven M. Johnson

First Faculty Reader

Dr. Byron Adams

Honors Coordinator

Dr. R. Paul Evans

Keywords

diabetes, sleep apnea, epigenetic(s), evolution, obesity, lifestyle disease

Abstract

This thesis gives an overview of the relationship between diabetes, sleep apnea, obesity, and heart disease. It then addresses evidence that the traditional understanding of this relationship is incomplete or misleading. In the process, there is a brief discussion of the evolutionary rationale for the development and retention of sleep apnea in light of blood sugar dysregulation, as an adaptive mechanism in response to environmental stressors, followed by a brief overview of the general concepts of epigenetics. Finally, this paper presents the results of a literature search on the epigenetic marks and changes in gene expression found in sleep apnea and diabetes. (While some of these marks will also correlate with obesity and heart disease, that is beyond the scope of this project.) This thesis concludes with an exploration of alternative explanations for the etiology of these interlinking diseases.

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