This meta-analysis is aimed to investigate the association between the neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (NLR) and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The PubMed, Web of Science, Google Scholar, and Cochrane Library databases were searched to collect all relevant articles. The pooled standardized mean difference (SMD) with a 95% confidence interval (CI) was calculated using the random effects model. In addition, subgroup analysis and meta-regression analysis were performed. Eleven eligible articles containing 2,259 patients with OSA were included in this study. Pooled outcomes revealed that the NLR was significantly higher in patients with OSA than in controls (SMD 0.62, 95% CI 0.29–0.94, P = 0.002). In subgroup analyses, differences in the NLR between patients and controls increased with worsening OSA grades. Furthermore, meta-regression analysis showed that differences in mean BMI exerted a significant effect on differences in the NLR (P = 0.0003). In summary, our meta-analysis demonstrated that the NLR in OSA patients was significantly higher than that in controls, and the difference was larger in patients with severe OSA. These results indicate that the NLR may be a reliable marker for detecting systemic inflammation and predicting disease severity in patients with OSA.
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