The English bulldog: a natural model of sleep-disordered breathing.
To establish a natural model of sleep-disordered breathing, we investigated respiration during wakefulness and sleep in the English bulldog. This breed is characterized by an abnormal upper airway anatomy, with enlargement of the soft palate and narrowing of the oropharynx. During sleep, the animals had disordered respiration and episodes of O2 desaturation. These were worst in rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep, with most bulldogs having O2 saturations of less than 90% for prolonged durations. In contrast, control dogs never desaturated. In REM sleep, the bulldogs had episodes of both central and obstructive apnea, the latter being associated with paradoxical movements of the rib cage and abdomen. During wakefulness, the bulldogs were hypersomnolent as evidenced by a shortened sleep latency (mean of 12 min compared with greater than 150 min for controls). This animal model should facilitate studies of the natural history of the sleep apnea syndrome and its complications.