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1.  Nocturnal Rapid Eye Movement Sleep Latency for Identifying Patients With Narcolepsy/Hypocretin Deficiency 
JAMA neurology  2013;70(7):891-902.
Narcolepsy, a disorder associated with HLA-DQB1*06:02 and caused by hypocretin (orexin) deficiency, is diagnosed using the Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT) following nocturnal polysomnography (NPSG). In many patients, a short rapid eye movement sleep latency (REML) during the NPSG is also observed but not used diagnostically.
To determine diagnostic accuracy and clinical utility of nocturnal REML measures in narcolepsy/hypocretin deficiency.
Observational study using receiver operating characteristic curves for NPSG REML and MSLT findings (sleep studies performed between May 1976 and September 2011 at university medical centers in the United States, China, Korea, and Europe) to determine optimal diagnostic cutoffs for narcolepsy/hypocretin deficiency compared with different samples: controls, patients with other sleep disorders, patients with other hypersomnias, and patients with narcolepsy with normal hypocretin levels. Increasingly stringent comparisons were made. In a first comparison, 516 age- and sex-matched patients with narcolepsy/hypocretin deficiency were selected from 1749 patients and compared with 516 controls. In a second comparison, 749 successive patients undergoing sleep evaluation for any sleep disorders (low pretest probability for narcolepsy) were compared within groups by final diagnosis of narcolepsy/hypocretin deficiency. In the third comparison, 254 patients with a high pretest probability of having narcolepsy were compared within group by their final diagnosis. Finally, 118 patients with narcolepsy/hypocretin deficiency were compared with 118 age- and sex-matched patients with a diagnosis of narcolepsy but with normal hypocretin levels.
Sensitivity and specificity of NPSG REML and MSLT as diagnostic tests for narcolepsy/hypocretin deficiency. This diagnosis was defined as narcolepsy associated with cataplexy plus HLA-DQB1*06:02 positivity (no cerebrospinal fluid hypocretin-1 results available) or narcolepsy with documented low (≤110 pg/mL) cerebrospinal fluid hypocretin-1 level.
Short REML (≤15 minutes) during NPSG was highly specific (99.2% [95% CI, 98.5%–100.0%] of 516 and 99.6% [95% CI, 99.1%–100.0%] of 735) but not sensitive (50.6% [95% CI, 46.3%–54.9%] of 516 and 35.7% [95% CI, 10.6%–60.8%] of 14) for patients with narcolepsy/hypocretin deficiency vs population-based controls or all patients with sleep disorders undergoing a nocturnal sleep study (area under the curve, 0.799 [95% CI, 0.771–0.826] and 0.704 [95% CI, 0.524–0.907], respectively). In patients with central hypersomnia and thus a high pretest probability for narcolepsy, short REML remained highly specific (95.4% [95% CI, 90.4%–98.3%] of 132) and similarly sensitive (57.4% [95% CI, 48.1%–66.3%] of 122) for narcolepsy/hypocretin deficiency (area under the curve, 0.765 [95% CI, 0.707–0.831]). Positive predictive value in this high pretest probability sample was 92.1% (95% CI, 83.6%–97.0%).
Among patients being evaluated for possible narcolepsy, short REML (≤15 minutes) at NPSG had high specificity and positive predictive value and may be considered diagnostic without the use of an MSLT; absence of short REML, however, requires a subsequent MSLT.
PMCID: PMC4170796  PMID: 23649748
2.  Positive Effects of Massage Therapy on a Patient with Narcolepsy 
The purpose of this case report was to investigate the effects of massage therapy on the sleep patterns of a woman with narcolepsy.
The 23-year-old woman’s primary symptoms included excessive daytime sleepiness and periodic leg movements (PLM), which were associated with her diagnoses of both narcolepsy and cataplexy.
Five 45-minute massage therapy treatments were administered over a five-week period. The patient’s sleep patterns were recorded each week before the treatment. A final measurement was recorded in the sixth week. The sleep patterns were monitored using the Leeds Sleep Evaluation Questionnaire, which included ten visual analogue scales.
The results of this case report included an improvement in getting to sleep by 148%, an improvement in quality of sleep by 1100%, an improvement in awake following sleep by 121%, and an improvement in behaviour following wakening by 28% using the Leeds Sleep Evaluation Questionnaire.
This case report suggests that massage therapy had a positive effect on this patient with narcolepsy. Further research is needed to investigate the effects of massage therapy on narcolepsy and sleep patterns.
PMCID: PMC3666598  PMID: 23730398
narcolepsy; sleep patterns; massage therapy; getting to sleep; quality of sleep; awake following sleep; behaviour following wakening
3.  Increased Incidence and Clinical Picture of Childhood Narcolepsy following the 2009 H1N1 Pandemic Vaccination Campaign in Finland 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e33723.
Narcolepsy is a rare neurological sleep disorder especially in children who are younger than 10 years. In the beginning of 2010, an exceptionally large number of Finnish children suffered from an abrupt onset of excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) and cataplexy. Therefore, we carried out a systematic analysis of the incidence of narcolepsy in Finland between the years 2002–2010.
All Finnish hospitals and sleep clinics were contacted to find out the incidence of narcolepsy in 2010. The national hospital discharge register from 2002 to 2009 was used as a reference.
Altogether 335 cases (all ages) of narcolepsy were diagnosed in Finland during 2002–2009 giving an annual incidence of 0.79 per 100 000 inhabitants (95% confidence interval 0.62–0.96). The average annual incidence among subjects under 17 years of age was 0.31 (0.12–0.51) per 100 000 inhabitants. In 2010, 54 children under age 17 were diagnosed with narcolepsy (5.3/100 000; 17-fold increase). Among adults ≥20 years of age the incidence rate in 2010 was 0.87/100 000, which equals that in 2002–2009. Thirty-four of the 54 children were HLA-typed, and they were all positive for narcolepsy risk allele DQB1*0602/DRB1*15. 50/54 children had received Pandemrix vaccination 0 to 242 days (median 42) before onset. All 50 had EDS with abnormal multiple sleep latency test (sleep latency <8 min and ≥2 sleep onset REM periods). The symptoms started abruptly. Forty-seven (94%) had cataplexy, which started at the same time or soon after the onset of EDS. Psychiatric symptoms were common. Otherwise the clinical picture was similar to that described in childhood narcolepsy.
A sudden increase in the incidence of abrupt childhood narcolepsy was observed in Finland in 2010. We consider it likely that Pandemrix vaccination contributed, perhaps together with other environmental factors, to this increase in genetically susceptible children.
PMCID: PMC3314680  PMID: 22470463
4.  Medical exposures in youth and the frequency of narcolepsy with cataplexy: a population-based case-control study in genetically predisposed people 
Journal of Sleep Research  2009;19(1 Pt 1):80-86.
Epidemiological observations suggest that exposures in youth may trigger narcolepsy in genetically predisposed individuals. In this population-based case–control study, we sought to identify all prevalent cases of narcolepsy with cataplexy aged 18–50 years as of 1 July 2001, in King County, Washington. The 45 eligible cases who were DQB1*0602-positive were compared with 95 controls with this allele, identified through random-digit dialing and buccal smears. Cases and controls were interviewed in person about physician-diagnosed infectious and non-infectious illnesses, immunizations, head trauma and parasomnias or psychiatric problems during youth. Narcolepsy with cataplexy was more frequent in African-Americans and in poorer households. Adjusting for these factors, the condition was 5.4-fold more common [95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.5–19.1] among people reporting a physician-diagnosed strep throat before the age of 21 years. No other significant associations with childhood diseases, immunizations or head trauma were found. However, prevalence was increased 16.3-fold (95% CI = 6.1–44.1) in subjects who reported having had ‘night terrors’. Strep throat may be related to narcolepsy with cataplexy in genetically susceptible individuals. The association with night terrors could simply reflect early symptoms of narcolepsy, or they could be a prodromal sign of disturbed sleep physiology. keywords epidemiology, head injuries, immunization, narcolepsy, night terrors, streptococcal infections
PMCID: PMC3345136  PMID: 19732319
epidemiology; head injuries; immunization; narcolepsy; night terrors; streptococcal infections
5.  Psychosis in Patients with Narcolepsy as an Adverse Effect of Sodium Oxybate 
Aim: Hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations are characteristic symptoms of narcolepsy, as are excessive daytime sleepiness, cataplexy, and sleep paralysis. Narcolepsy patients may also experience daytime hallucinations unrelated to sleep–wake transitions. The effect of medication on hallucinations is of interest since treatment of narcolepsy may provoke psychotic symptoms. We aim to analyze the relation between sodium oxybate (SXB) treatment and psychotic symptoms in narcolepsy patients. Furthermore, we analyze the characteristics of hallucinations to determine their nature as mainly psychotic or hypnagogic and raise a discussion about whether SXB causes psychosis or if psychosis occurs as an endogenous complication in narcolepsy.
Method: We present altogether four patients with narcolepsy who experienced psychotic symptoms during treatment with SXB. In addition, we searched the literature for descriptions of hallucinations in narcolepsy and similarities and differences with psychotic symptoms in schizophrenia.
Results: Three out of four patients had hallucinations typical for psychosis and one had symptoms that resembled aggravated hypnagogic hallucinations. Two patients also had delusional symptoms primarily associated with mental disorders. Tapering down SXB was tried and helped in two out of four cases. Adding antipsychotic treatment (risperidone) alleviated psychotic symptoms in two cases.
Conclusion: Psychotic symptoms in narcolepsy may appear during SXB treatment. Hallucinations resemble those seen in schizophrenia; however, the insight that symptoms are delusional is usually preserved. In case of SXB-induced psychotic symptoms or hallucinations, reducing SXB dose or adding antipsychotic medication can be tried.
PMCID: PMC4138489  PMID: 25191304
xyrem; sodium oxybate; gamma hydroxybutyrate; psychosis; hallucinations; narcolepsy; schizophrenia; sleep disorders
Acta physiologica (Oxford, England)  2009;198(3):209-222.
Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder, characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), cataplexy, hypnagogic hallucinations, and sleep paralysis. Both sporadic (95%) and familial (5%) forms of narcolepsy exist in humans. The major pathophysiology of human narcolepsy has been recently discovered based on the discovery of narcolepsy genes in animals; the genes involved in the pathology of the hypocretin/orexin ligand and its receptor. Mutations in hypocretin-related genes are rare in humans, but hypocretin-ligand deficiency is found in a large majority of narcolepsy with cataplexy.
Hypocretin ligand deficiency in human narcolepsy is likely due to the postnatal cell death of hypocretin neurons. Although tight association between human leukocyte antigen (HLA) association and human narcolepsy with cataplexy suggests an involvement of autoimmune mechanisms, this has not yet been proven. Hypocretin deficiency is also found in symptomatic cases of narcolepsy and EDS with various neurological conditions, including immune-mediated neurological disorders, such as Guillain-Barre syndrome, MA2-positive paraneoplastic syndrome and neuromyelitis optica (NMO) related disorder. These findings likely have significant clinical relevance and for understanding the mechanisms of hypocretin cell death and choice of treatment option.
These series of discoveries in humans lead to the establishment of the new diagnostic test of narcolepsy (i.e. low cerebrospinal fluid [CSF] hypocretin-1 levels for narcolepsy with cataplexy and narcolepsy due to medical condition). Since a large majority of human narcolepsy patients are ligand deficient, hypocretin replacement therapy may be a promising new therapeutic option, and animal experiments using gene therapy and cell transplantations are in progress.
PMCID: PMC2860658  PMID: 19555382
narcolepsy; orexin; hypocretin; REM sleep; cataplexy; CSF; histamine
7.  Prader-Willi syndrome, excessive daytime sleepiness, and narcoleptic symptoms: a case report 
Sleep abnormalities, including narcolepsy and cataplexy, are a common feature of Prader-Willi syndrome. Long-term treatment with the central nervous system stimulant modafinil has not been reported. In this case report we present a longitudinal perspective of sleep abnormalities in a nine-year-old Caucasian girl with Prader-Willi syndrome from age two to age nine, and detail the response to treatment with the central nervous system stimulant modafinil.
Case presentation
Our patient presented at two years of age with hypersomnia and narcoleptic episodes with cataplectic features. Initial polysomnograph testing revealed adequate sleep efficiency, but increased sleep fragmentation especially during rapid eye movement sleep. The narcoleptic episodes continued and a repeat polysomnograph at age five years confirmed features consistent with narcolepsy. Further sleep studies at six years, including a multiple sleep latency test, demonstrated signs of excessive daytime sleepiness. Treatment with modafinil was initiated at age seven years six months due to persistent hypersomnia and narcoleptic symptoms. Two polysomnograph studies were performed following treatment with modafinil, at age eight years six months and nine years three months. These studies showed excellent sleep efficiency and improvement of rapid eye movement sleep parameters, supporting the beneficial effects of long-term modafinil therapy.
Long-term modafinil therapy may ameliorate the sleep disturbances of Prader-Willi syndrome and should be the focus of future clinical trials.
PMCID: PMC4000141  PMID: 24742112
Pediatrics; Prader-Willi syndrome; Modafinil; Excessive daytime sleepiness; Narcolepsy; Cataplexy
8.  TCRA, P2RY11, and CPT1B/CHKB associations in Chinese narcolepsy 
Sleep Medicine  2011;13(3):269-272.
Polymorphisms in the TCRA and P2RY11, two immune related genes, are associated with narcolepsy in Caucasians and Asians. In contrast, CPT1B/CHKB polymorphisms have only been shown to be associated with narcolepsy in Japanese, with replication in a small group of Koreans. Our aim was to study whether these polymorphisms are associated with narcolepsy and its clinical characteristics in Chinese patients with narcolepsy.
We collected clinical data on 510 Chinese patients presenting with narcolepsy/hypocretin deficiency. Patients were included either when hypocretin deficiency was documented (CSF hypocretin-1 ≤110 pg/ml, n=91) or on the basis of the presence of clear cataplexy and HLA-DQB1*0602 positivity (n=419). Genetic data was compared to typing obtained in 452 controls matched for geographic origin within China. Clinical evaluations included demographics, the Stanford Sleep Inventory (presence and age of onset of each symptom), and Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT) data.
Chinese narcolepsy was strongly and dose dependently associated with TCRA (rs1154155C) and P2RY11 (rs2305795A) but not CPT1B/CHKB (rs5770917C) polymorphisms. CPT1B/CHKB polymorphisms were not associated with any specific clinical characteristics. TCRA rs1154155A homozygotes (58 subjects) had a later disease onset, but this was not significant when corrected for multiple comparisons, thus replication is needed. CPT1B/CHKB or P2RY11 polymorphisms were not associated with any specific clinical characteristics.
The study extends on the observation of a strong multiethnic association of polymorphisms in the TCRA and P2RY11 with narcolepsy, but does not confirm the association of CPT1B/CHKB (rs5770917) in the Chinese population.
PMCID: PMC3288279  PMID: 22177342
narcolepsy; TCR alpha; P2RY11; CPT1B/CHKB; hypocretin; orexin; MSLT; HLADQB1*0602
9.  AS03 Adjuvanted AH1N1 Vaccine Associated with an Abrupt Increase in the Incidence of Childhood Narcolepsy in Finland 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e33536.
Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder with strong genetic predisposition causing excessive daytime sleepiness and cataplexy. A sudden increase in childhood narcolepsy was observed in Finland soon after pandemic influenza epidemic and vaccination with ASO3-adjuvanted Pandemrix. No increase was observed in other age groups.
Retrospective cohort study. From January 1, 2009 to December 31, 2010 we retrospectively followed the cohort of all children living in Finland and born from January 1991 through December 2005. Vaccination data of the whole population was obtained from primary health care databases. All new cases with assigned ICD-10 code of narcolepsy were identified and the medical records reviewed by two experts to classify the diagnosis of narcolepsy according to the Brighton collaboration criteria. Onset of narcolepsy was defined as the first documented contact to health care because of excessive daytime sleepiness. The primary follow-up period was restricted to August 15, 2010, the day before media attention on post-vaccination narcolepsy started.
Vaccination coverage in the cohort was 75%. Of the 67 confirmed cases of narcolepsy, 46 vaccinated and 7 unvaccinated were included in the primary analysis. The incidence of narcolepsy was 9.0 in the vaccinated as compared to 0.7/100,000 person years in the unvaccinated individuals, the rate ratio being 12.7 (95% confidence interval 6.1–30.8). The vaccine-attributable risk of developing narcolepsy was 1∶16,000 vaccinated 4 to 19-year-olds (95% confidence interval 1∶13,000–1∶21,000).
Pandemrix vaccine contributed to the onset of narcolepsy among those 4 to 19 years old during the pandemic influenza in 2009–2010 in Finland. Further studies are needed to determine whether this observation exists in other populations and to elucidate potential underlying immunological mechanism. The role of the adjuvant in particular warrants further research before drawing conclusions about the use of adjuvanted pandemic vaccines in the future.
PMCID: PMC3314666  PMID: 22470453
10.  Use of PCR with Sequence-specific Primers for High-Resolution Human Leukocyte Antigen Typing of Patients with Narcolepsy 
Annals of Laboratory Medicine  2011;32(1):57-65.
Narcolepsy is a neurologic disorder characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness, symptoms of abnormal rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, and a strong association with HLA-DRB1*1501, -DQA1*0102, and -DQB1*0602. Here, we investigated the clinico-physical characteristics of Korean patients with narcolepsy, their HLA types, and the clinical utility of high-resolution PCR with sequence-specific primers (PCR-SSP) as a simple typing method for identifying DRB1*15/16, DQA1, and DQB1 alleles.
The study population consisted of 67 consecutively enrolled patients having unexplained daytime sleepiness and diagnosed narcolepsy based on clinical and neurological findings. Clinical data and the results of the multiple sleep latency test and polysomnography were reviewed, and HLA typing was performed using both high-resolution PCR-SSP and sequence-based typing (SBT).
The 44 narcolepsy patients with cataplexy displayed significantly higher frequencies of DRB1*1501 (Pc= 0.003), DQA1*0102 (Pc=0.001), and DQB1*0602 (Pc=0.014) than the patients without cataplexy. Among patients carrying DRB1*1501-DQB1*0602 or DQA1*0102, the frequencies of a mean REM sleep latency of less than 20 min in nocturnal polysomnography and clinical findings, including sleep paralysis and hypnagogic hallucination were significantly higher. SBT and PCR-SSP showed 100% concordance for high-resolution typing of DRB1*15/16 alleles and DQA1 and DQB1 loci.
The clinical characteristics and somnographic findings of narcolepsy patients were associated with specific HLA alleles, including DRB1*1501, DQA1*0102, and DQB1*0602. Application of high-resolution PCR-SSP, a reliable and simple method, for both allele- and locus-specific HLA typing of DRB1*15/16, DQA1, and DQB1 would be useful for characterizing clinical status among subjects with narcolepsy.
PMCID: PMC3255490  PMID: 22259780
HLA; Genotype; Narcolepsy; Cataplexy
11.  Case report of narcolepsy in a six-year-old child initially misdiagnosed as atypical epilepsy 
Shanghai Archives of Psychiatry  2014;26(4):232-235.
This report describes a case of first-onset narcolepsy in a six-year-old female that was misdiagnosed as atypical epilepsy and other diagnoses at eight different hospitals over a period of 10 months before the correct diagnosis was made. The diagnosis of narcolepsy is more difficult in children because very few of them experience all four cardinal symptoms of narcolepsy – paroxysmal sleep, cataplexy, hypnagogic hallucination, and sleep paralysis – and they often have a more prolonged onset and diverse symptoms. To decrease the time lag between initial presentation and accurate diagnosis, we recommend that in all cases in which children report excessive sleep of unknown etiology – regardless of the associated symptoms – that sleep monitoring and sleep latency tests be conducted to rule out the possibility of narcolepsy. The case highlights the wide variety of presentations of uncommon psychiatric conditions, particularly in children, and the need for clinicians to be aware of the atypical presentations of these conditions when collecting medical histories.
PMCID: PMC4194006  PMID: 25317010
narcolepsy; hypnagogic hallucinations; misdiagnosis; epilepsy; children; China
12.  A Case of REM Sleep Behavior Disorder, Narcolepsy-Cataplexy, Parkinsonism, and Rheumatoid Arthritis 
Behavioural Neurology  2014;2014:572931.
A patient is reported in whom signs and symptoms of REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) and narcolepsy have been associated for almost two decades with a late development of parkinsonism and rheumatoid arthritis. A 78-year-old male patient in whom RBD was first diagnosed was followed-up by clinical examination, video-polysomnography, multiple sleep latency test, cerebral magnetic resonance imaging, and dopamine transporter imaging by single-photon emission computerized tomography. The patient was found to present for almost two decades, in addition to RBD, also narcolepsy. Moreover, a late development of parkinsonism and the occurrence of rheumatoid arthritis were detected and clinically and instrumentally characterized. Patients predisposed to RBD and later parkinsonism might be susceptible to a variety of triggers that, in our patient, might have been represented by a possible latent autoimmune process leading to the development of narcolepsy with cataplexy and rheumatoid arthritis, later.
PMCID: PMC4006621  PMID: 24825961
13.  HLA Haplotypes, Polysomnography, and Pedigrees in a Case Series of Patients With Narcolepsy 
Sleep  1997;20(10):850-857.
An ongoing study of the genetics of narcolepsy ascertains families through a case series of narcoleptic probands using diagnostic criteria consisting of 1) clinical history of excessive somnolence, 2) a mean sleep latency on the multiple sleep latency test (MSLT) of less than 7.9 minutes, 3) the rapid eye movement (REM) sleep-related symptom of cataplexy, 4) nocturnal polysomnography ruling out sleep apnea syndrome, and 5) two or more transitions to REM sleep on the MSLT. All probands and first-degree relatives received clinical and laboratory evaluations as well as human leukocyte antigen (HLA) typing. Demographic characteristics of the 32 probands are as follows: 17 males and 15 females; mean age was 42.1 years (range 13–70 years). The polysomnographic data confirmed daytime sleepiness and increased tendency for REM sleep for the 32 probands. Nocturnal polysomnographic results are as follows: sleep latency, 3.2 minutes; total sleep time, 442 minutes. MSLT results are as follows: sleep latency, 3.1 minutes; REM latency, 6.9 minutes; number of REM periods, 3.2. HLA typing revealed the presence of the HLA haplotypes, DRB1*15 and DQB1*0602, in 21 narcoleptic probands, with two African-Americans having the DQB1*0602 but not the DRB1*15 allele. Among the 57 relatives of the 32 probands, 1/31 females and 7/26 males were found to be affected with narcolepsy (p < 0.02), which suggests a higher diagnostic rate in male relatives. The 21 probands who were positive for the DRB1*15 and DQB1*0602 haplotypes did not differ from the 10 probands who were negative for these alleles in terms of their nocturnal sleep parameters, MSLT findings, or clinical presentation. Three families with multiple individuals affected with narcolepsy are presented. Two families have more than one affected individual who does not have the high-risk HLA haplotype. In one of these families, the disease is segregating independently of any HLA haplotype. In the third family, there is cosegregation with HLA DRB1*15 and DQB1*0602. One family contains a pair of DNA-confirmed, monozygotic twins with narcolepsy who are discordant for cataplexy and have the HLA DR14(Dw9)/DQB1*0503 and DR4(Dw4)/DQB1*0302 haplotypes.
PMCID: PMC2248798  PMID: 9415944
Narcolepsy; Cataplexy; HLA; Genetics; Polysomnography
14.  Clinical and polysomnographic course of childhood narcolepsy with cataplexy 
Brain  2013;136(12):3787-3795.
Our aim was to investigate the natural evolution of cataplexy and polysomnographic features in untreated children with narcolepsy with cataplexy. To this end, clinical, polysomnographic, and cataplexy-video assessments were performed at diagnosis (mean age of 10 ± 3 and disease duration of 1 ± 1 years) and after a median follow-up of 3 years from symptom onset (mean age of 12 ± 4 years) in 21 children with narcolepsy with cataplexy and hypocretin 1 deficiency (tested in 19 subjects). Video assessment was also performed in two control groups matched for age and sex at first evaluation and follow-up and was blindly scored for presence of hypotonic (negative) and active movements. Patients’ data at diagnosis and at follow-up were contrasted, compared with controls, and related with age and disease duration. At diagnosis children with narcolepsy with cataplexy showed an increase of sleep time during the 24 h; at follow-up sleep time and nocturnal sleep latency shortened, in the absence of other polysomnographic or clinical (including body mass index) changes. Hypotonic phenomena and selected facial movements decreased over time and, tested against disease duration and age, appeared as age-dependent. At onset, childhood narcolepsy with cataplexy is characterized by an abrupt increase of total sleep over the 24 h, generalized hypotonia and motor overactivity. With time, the picture of cataplexy evolves into classic presentation (i.e. brief muscle weakness episodes triggered by emotions), whereas total sleep time across the 24 h decreases, returning to more age-appropriate levels.
PMCID: PMC3859221  PMID: 24142146
children; narcolepsy; cataplexy; sleep; sleepiness
15.  Reward-based behaviors and emotional processing in human with narcolepsy-cataplexy 
Major advances in the past decade have led a better understanding of the pathophysiology of narcolepsy with cataplexy (NC) caused by the early loss of hypothalamic hypocretin neurons. Although a role for hypocretin in the regulation of sleep/wakefulness state is widely recognized, other functions, not necessarily related to arousal, have been identified. Hence, the hypocretin system enhances signaling in the mesolimbic pathways regulating reward processing, emotion and mood regulation, and addiction. Although studies on hypocretin-deficient mice have shown that hypocretin plays an essential role in reward-seeking, depression-like behavior and addiction, results in human narcolepsy remained subject to debate. Most of studies revealed that hypocretin-deficient narcolepsy patients either drug-free or medicated with psychostimulant had preferences toward risky choices in a decision-making task under ambiguity together with higher frequency of depressive symptoms and binge eating disorder compared to controls. However, human studies mostly reported the lack of association with pathological impulsivity and gambling, and substance and alcohol abuse in the context of narcolepsy-cataplexy. Prospective larger studies are required to confirm these findings in drug-free and medicated patients with narcolepsy. Inclusion of patients with other central hypersomnias without hypocretin deficiency will provide answer to the major question of the role of the hypocretin system in reward-based behaviors and emotional processing in humans.
PMCID: PMC3661950  PMID: 23734110
hypocretin; orexin; cataplexy; narcolepsy; mood; reward; decision-making; addiction
16.  Association of narcolepsy-cataplexy with HLA-DRB1 and DQB1 in Mexican patients: A relationship between HLA and gender is suggested 
BMC Medical Genetics  2008;9:79.
Narcolepsy-cataplexy is characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness with recurrent episodes of irresistible sleep, cataplexy, hallucinations and sleep paralysis. Its aetiology is unknown, but it is positively associated with the human leukocyte antigens (HLA) in all studied populations. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the association of HLA class II DRB1/DQB1 alleles with narcolepsy-cataplexy in Mexican Mestizo patients.
This is a case-control study of consecutive patients and ethnically matched controls. We included 32 patients diagnosed with typical narcolepsy-cataplexy, of the National Institute of Neurology, of the Institute of Psychiatry and at the Center of Narcolepsy at Stanford University. As healthy controls, 203 Mexican Mestizos were included. DRB1 alleles were identified using sequence based typing. A PCR-SSOP reverse dot blot was used for DQB1 typing. Allele frequency was calculated by direct counting and the significance of the differences was assessed using the Yates Chi square. Odds ratio and confidence intervals were evaluated.
HLA-DRB1*1501 (OR = 8.2; pc < 0.0001) and DQB1*0602 (OR = 8.4; pc < 0.0001) were found positively associated with narcolepsy. When deleting DQB1*0602+ patients from the analysis, DQB1*0301 was also found increased (OR = 2.7; p = 0.035; pc = NS). DQB1*0602/DQB1*0301 genotype was present in 15.6% of the cases (OR = 11.5; p = 0.00035), conferring a high risk. DRB1*0407 (OR = 0.2; p = 0.016 pc = NS) and DQB1*0302(OR = 0.4; p = 0.017, pc = NS) were found decreased in the patients. The gender stratification analysis showed a higher risk in females carrying DRB1*1501 (OR = 15.8, pc < 0.0001) and DQB1*0602 (OR = 19.8, pc < 0.0001) than in males (OR = 5.0 for both alleles; p = 0.012, pc = NS for DRB1 & p = 0.0012, pc = 0.017 for DQB1). The susceptibility alleles found in Mexicans with narcolepsy are also present in Japanese and Caucasians; DRB1*04 linked protection has also been shown in Koreans. A stronger HLA association is suggested in females, in accordance with the sexual dimorphism claimed previously.
This knowledge may contribute to a better understanding of the disease pathogenesis in different populations. The evaluation of the risk to develop narcolepsy-cataplexy in carriers of the described alleles/genotypes may also be possible. A larger sample should be analysed in Mexican and in other Hispanic patients to confirm these results.
PMCID: PMC2533302  PMID: 18706091
17.  Genetic association, seasonal infections and autoimmune basis of narcolepsy 
Journal of autoimmunity  2013;43:26-31.
In recent years, a growing number of potential autoimmune disorders affecting neurons in the central nervous system have been identified, including narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is a lifelong sleep disorder characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness with irresistible sleep attacks, cataplexy (sudden bilateral loss of muscle tone), hypnagogic hallucinations, and abnormalities of Rapid Eye Movement sleep. Narcolepsy is generally a sporadic disorder and is caused by the loss of hypocretin (orexin)-producing neurons in the hypothalamus region of the brain. Studies have established that more than 90% of patients have a genetic association with HLA DQB1*06:02. Genome-wide association analysis shows a strong association between narcolepsy and polymorphisms in the TCRα locus and weaker associations within TNFSF4 (also called OX40L), Cathepsin H and the P2RY11-DNMT1 (purinergic receptor subtype P2Y11 to DNMT1, a DNA methytransferase) loci, suggesting an autoimmune basis. Mutations in DNMT1 have also been reported to cause narcolepsy in association with a complex neurological syndrome, suggesting the importance of DNA methylation in the pathology. More recently, narcolepsy was identified in association with seasonal streptococcus, H1N1 infections and following AS03-adjuvanted pH1N1 influenza vaccination in Northern Europe. Potential immunological pathways responsible for the loss of hypocretin producing neurons in these cases may be molecular mimicry or bystander activation. Specific autoantibodies or T cells cross-reactive with hypocretin neurons have not yet been identified, however, thus narcolepsy does not meet Witebsky’s criteria for an autoimmune disease. As the brain is not an easily accessible organ, mechanisms of disease initiation and progression remain a challenge to researchers.
PMCID: PMC4118764  PMID: 23497937
Narcolepsy; Hypocretin; H1N1 infection; HLA association; Autoimmune
18.  IgG Abnormality in Narcolepsy and Idiopathic Hypersomnia 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(3):e9555.
A close association between narcolepsy and the Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA)-DQB1*0602 allele suggests the involvement of the immune system, or possibly an autoimmune process. We investigated serum IgG levels in narcolepsy.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We measured the serum total IgG levels in 159 Japanese narcolepsy-cataplexy patients positive for the HLA-DQB1*0602 allele, 28 idiopathic hypersomnia patients with long sleep time, and 123 healthy controls (the HLA-DQB1*0602 allele present in 45 subjects). The serum levels of each IgG subclass were subsequently measured. The distribution of serum IgG was significantly different among healthy controls negative for the HLA-DQB1*0602 allele (11.66±3.55 mg/ml), healthy controls positive for the HLA-DQB1*0602 allele (11.45±3.43), narcolepsy patients (9.67±3.38), and idiopathic hypersomnia patients (13.81±3.80). None of the following clinical variables, age, disease duration, Epworth Sleepiness Scale, smoking habit and BMI at the time of blood sampling, were associated with IgG levels in narcolepsy or idiopathic hypersomnia. Furthermore we found the decrease in IgG1 and IgG2 levels, stable expression of IgG3, and the increase in the proportion of IgG4 in narcolepsy patients with abnormally low IgG levels. The increase in the proportion of IgG4 levels was also found in narcolepsy patients with normal serum total IgG levels. Idiopathic hypersomnia patients showed a different pattern of IgG subclass distribution with high IgG3 and IgG4 level, low IgG2 level, and IgG1/IgG2 imbalance.
Our study is the first to determine IgG abnormalities in narcolepsy and idiopathic hypersomnia by measuring the serum IgG levels in a large number of hypersomnia patients. The observed IgG abnormalities indicate humoral immune alterations in narcolepsy and idiopathic hypersomnia. Different IgG profiles suggest immunological differences between narcolepsy and idiopathic hypersomnia.
PMCID: PMC2832686  PMID: 20221267
19.  Complex movement disorders at disease onset in childhood narcolepsy with cataplexy 
Brain  2011;134(12):3477-3489.
Narcolepsy with cataplexy is characterized by daytime sleepiness, cataplexy (sudden loss of bilateral muscle tone triggered by emotions), sleep paralysis, hypnagogic hallucinations and disturbed nocturnal sleep. Narcolepsy with cataplexy is most often associated with human leucocyte antigen-DQB1*0602 and is caused by the loss of hypocretin-producing neurons in the hypothalamus of likely autoimmune aetiology. Noting that children with narcolepsy often display complex abnormal motor behaviours close to disease onset that do not meet the classical definition of cataplexy, we systematically analysed motor features in 39 children with narcolepsy with cataplexy in comparison with 25 age- and sex-matched healthy controls. We found that patients with narcolepsy with cataplexy displayed a complex array of ‘negative’ (hypotonia) and ‘active’ (ranging from perioral movements to dyskinetic–dystonic movements or stereotypies) motor disturbances. ‘Active’ and ‘negative’ motor scores correlated positively with the presence of hypotonic features at neurological examination and negatively with disease duration, whereas ‘negative’ motor scores also correlated negatively with age at disease onset. These observations suggest that paediatric narcolepsy with cataplexy often co-occurs with a complex movement disorder at disease onset, a phenomenon that may vanish later in the course of the disease. Further studies are warranted to assess clinical course and whether the associated movement disorder is also caused by hypocretin deficiency or by additional neurochemical abnormalities.
PMCID: PMC3235554  PMID: 21930661
hypotonia; movement disorder; narcolepsy with cataplexy; streptococcal infection; chorea
20.  Effects of Oral L-Carnitine Administration in Narcolepsy Patients: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Cross-Over and Placebo-Controlled Trial 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53707.
Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness, cataplexy, and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep abnormalities. A genome-wide association study (GWAS) identified a novel narcolepsy-related single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), which is located adjacent to the carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1B (CPT1B) gene encoding an enzyme involved in β-oxidation of long-chain fatty acids. The mRNA expression levels of CPT1B were associated with this SNP. In addition, we recently reported that acylcarnitine levels were abnormally low in narcolepsy patients. To assess the efficacy of oral l-carnitine for the treatment of narcolepsy, we performed a clinical trial administering l-carnitine (510 mg/day) to patients with the disease. The study design was a randomized, double-blind, cross-over and placebo-controlled trial. Thirty narcolepsy patients were enrolled in our study. Two patients were withdrawn and 28 patients were included in the statistical analysis (15 males and 13 females, all with HLA-DQB1*06:02). l-carnitine treatment significantly improved the total time for dozing off during the daytime, calculated from the sleep logs, compared with that of placebo-treated periods. l-carnitine efficiently increased serum acylcarnitine levels, and reduced serum triglycerides concentration. Differences in the Japanese version of the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS) and the Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36) vitality and mental health subscales did not reach statistical significance between l-carnitine and placebo. This study suggests that oral l-carnitine can be effective in reducing excessive daytime sleepiness in narcolepsy patients.
Trial Registration
University hospital Medical Information Network (UMIN) UMIN000003760
PMCID: PMC3547955  PMID: 23349733
21.  Risk of Narcolepsy Associated with Inactivated Adjuvanted (AS03) A/H1N1 (2009) Pandemic Influenza Vaccine in Quebec 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e108489.
An association between an adjuvanted (AS03) A/H1N1 pandemic vaccine and narcolepsy has been reported in Europe.
To assess narcolepsy risk following administration of a similar vaccine in Quebec.
Retrospective population-based study.
Neurologists and lung specialists in the province were invited to report narcolepsy cases to a single reference centre.
Patients were interviewed by two sleep experts and standard diagnostic tests were performed. Immunization status was verified in the provincial pandemic influenza vaccination registry.
Main Outcome Measures
Confirmed narcolepsy with or without cataplexy with onset of excessive daytime sleepiness between January 1st, 2009, and December 31st, 2010. Relative risks (RRs) were calculated using a Poisson model in a cohort analysis, by a self-controlled case series (SCCS) and a case-control method.
A total of 24 cases were included and overall incidence rate was 1.5 per million person-years. A cluster of 7 cases was observed among vaccinated persons in the winter 2009–2010. In the primary cohort analysis, 16-week post-vaccination RR was 4.32 (95% CI: 1.50–11.12). RR was 2.07 (0.70–6.17) in the SCCS, and 1.48 (0.37–7.03) using the case-control method. Estimates were lower when observation was restricted to the period of pandemic influenza circulation, and tended to be higher in persons <20 years old and for cataplexy cases.
Results are compatible with an excess risk of approximately one case per million vaccine doses, mainly in persons less than 20 years of age. However, a confounding effect of the influenza infection cannot be ruled out.
PMCID: PMC4180737  PMID: 25264897
22.  Clinical perspective: monitoring sodium oxybate-treated narcolepsy patients for the development of sleep-disordered breathing 
While the symptoms of narcolepsy are often amenable to treatment with sodium oxybate (SXB), the respiratory effects of long-term SXB treatment have not been systematically studied. Recent reports have implicated SXB with several cases of worsening sleep-related breathing disturbances and accidental death. In addition, these patients are at risk for obesity, which may aggravate co-morbid obstructive sleep apnea.
Based on a review of the literature and the clinical experience of the author, recommendations for the use of SXB in patients with sleep-disordered breathing have been developed.
Among narcolepsy patients with evidence of sleep disordered breathing during baseline polysomnography, SXB should be prescribed only to those patients who fully comply with nasal continuous positive airway pressure therapy. The respiratory status of other SXB-treated patients should be periodically evaluated with nocturnal oximetry.
Based on the currently available data, physicians prescribing SXB should remain vigilant for the possible development of sleep-disordered breathing during long-term treatment with SXB.
PMCID: PMC2824842  PMID: 19626356
Narcolepsy; Sodium oxybate; Sleep-disordered breathing; Obstructive sleep apnea
23.  Dysautonomia in Narcolepsy: Evidence by Questionnaire Assessment 
Background and Purpose
Excessive daytime sleepiness and sudden sleep attacks are the main features of narcolepsy, but rapid-eye-movement sleep behavior disorder (RBD), hyposmia, and depression can also occur. The latter symptoms are nonmotor features in idiopathic Parkinson's disease (IPD). In the present study, IPD-proven diagnostic tools were tested to determine whether they are also applicable in the assessment of narcolepsy.
This was a case-control study comparing 15 patients with narcolepsy (PN) and 15 control subjects (CS) using the Scales for Outcomes in Parkinson's Autonomic Test (SCOPA-AUT), Parkinson's Disease Nonmotor Symptoms (PDNMS), University of Pennsylvania Smell Test, Farnsworth-Munsell 100 Hue test, Beck Depression Inventory, and the RBD screening questionnaire.
Both the PN and CS exhibited mild hyposmia and no deficits in visual tests. Frequent dysautonomia in all domains except sexuality was found for the PN. The total SCOPA-AUT score was higher for the PN (18.47±10.08, mean±SD) than for the CS (4.40±3.09), as was the PDNMS score (10.53±4.78 and 1.80±2.31, respectively). RBD was present in 87% of the PN and 0% of the CS. The PN were more depressed than the CS. The differences between the PN and CS for all of these variables were statistically significant (all p<0.05).
The results of this study provide evidence for the presence of dysautonomia and confirm the comorbidities of depression and RBD in narcolepsy patients. The spectrum, which is comparable to the nonmotor complex in IPD, suggests wide-ranging, clinically detectable dysfunction beyond the narcoleptic core syndrome.
PMCID: PMC4198712  PMID: 25324880
autonomic failure; multisystem disorder; narcolepsy; Parkinson's disease
24.  Narcolepsy: a review 
Narcolepsy is a lifelong sleep disorder characterized by a classic tetrad of excessive daytime sleepiness with irresistible sleep attacks, cataplexy (sudden bilateral loss of muscle tone), hypnagogic hallucination, and sleep paralysis. There are two distinct groups of patients, ie, those having narcolepsy with cataplexy and those having narcolepsy without cataplexy. Narcolepsy affects 0.05% of the population. It has a negative effect on the quality of life of its sufferers and can restrict them from certain careers and activities. There have been advances in the understanding of the pathogenesis of narcolepsy. It is thought that narcolepsy with cataplexy is secondary to loss of hypothalamic hypocretin neurons in those genetically predisposed to the disorder by possession of human leukocyte antigen DQB1*0602. The diagnostic criteria for narcolepsy are based on symptoms, laboratory sleep tests, and serum levels of hypocretin. There is no cure for narcolepsy, and the present mainstay of treatment is pharmacological treatment along with lifestyle changes. Some novel treatments are also being developed and tried. This article critically appraises the evidence for diagnosis and treatment of narcolepsy.
PMCID: PMC3173034  PMID: 21931493
narcolepsy; cataplexy; hypocretin; modafinil; gamma hydroxybutyrate
25.  History of narcolepsy at Stanford University 
Immunologic Research  2014;58(2-3):315-339.
Although narcolepsy was first described in the late nineteenth century in Germany and France, much of the research on this disorder has been conducted at Stanford University, starting with Drs. William C. Dement and Christian Guilleminault in the 1970s. The prevalence of narcolepsy was established, and a canine model discovered. Following the finding in Japan that almost all patients with narcolepsy carry a specific HLA subtype, HLA-DR2, Hugh Mac Devitt, F. Carl Grumet, and Larry Steinman initiated immunological studies, but results were generally negative. Using the narcoleptic canines, Dr. Nishino and I established that stimulants increased wakefulness by stimulating dopaminergic transmission while antidepressants suppress cataplexy via adrenergic reuptake inhibition. A linkage study was initiated with Dr. Grumet in 1988, and after 10 years of work, the canine narcolepsy gene was cloned by in 1999 and identified as the hypocretin (orexin) receptor 2. In 1992, studying African Americans, we also found that DQ0602 rather than DR2 was a better marker for narcolepsy across all ethnic groups. In 2000, Dr. Nishino and I, in collaboration with Dr. Lammers in the Netherlands, found that hypocretin 1 levels in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) were undetectable in most cases, establishing hypocretin deficiency as the cause of narcolepsy. Pursuing this research, our and Dr. Siegel’s group, examining postmortem brains, found that the decreased CSF hypocretin 1 was secondary to the loss the 70,000 neurons producing hypocretin in the hypothalamus. This finding revived the autoimmune hypothesis but attempts at demonstrating immune targeting of hypocretin cells failed until 2013. At this date, Dr. Elisabeth Mellins and I discovered that narcolepsy is characterized by the presence of autoreactive CD4+ T cells to hypocretin fragments when presented by DQ0602. Following reports that narcolepsy cases were triggered by vaccinations and infections against influenza A 2009 pH1N1, a new pandemic strain that erupted in 2009, our groups also established that a small epitope of pH1N1 resembles hypocretin and is likely involved in molecular mimicry. Although much remains to be done, these achievements, establishing hypocretin deficiency as the cause of narcolepsy, demonstrating its autoimmune basis, and showing molecular mimicry between hypocretin and sequences derived from a pandemic strain of influenza, are likely to remain classics in human immunology.
PMCID: PMC4028550  PMID: 24825774
Narcolepsy; Cataplexy; HLA; MHC; DQB1*06:02; Autoimmune disease

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