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Narcolepsy - clinical spectrum, aetiopathophysiology, diagnosis and treatment


Abstract

Narcolepsy is a rare brain disorder that reflects a selective loss or dysfunction of orexin (also known as hypocretin) neurons of the lateral hypothalamus. Narcolepsy type 1 (NT1) is characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness and cataplexy, accompanied by sleep-wake symptoms, such as hallucinations, sleep paralysis and disturbed sleep. Diagnosis is based on these clinical features and supported by biomarkers: evidence of rapid eye movement sleep periods soon after sleep onset; cerebrospinal fluid orexin deficiency; and positivity for HLA-DQB1*06:02. Symptomatic treatment with stimulant and anticataplectic drugs is usually efficacious. This Review focuses on our current understanding of how genetic, environmental and immune-related factors contribute to a prominent (but not isolated) orexin signalling deficiency in patients with NT1. Data supporting the view of NT1 as a hypothalamic disorder affecting not only sleep-wake but also motor, psychiatric, emotional, cognitive, metabolic and autonomic functions are presented, along with uncertainties concerning the 'narcoleptic borderland', including narcolepsy type 2 (NT2). The limitations of current diagnostic criteria for narcolepsy are discussed, and a possible new classification system incorporating the borderland conditions is presented. Finally, advances and obstacles in the symptomatic and causal treatment of narcolepsy are reviewed.

Abstract

Narcolepsy is a rare brain disorder that reflects a selective loss or dysfunction of orexin (also known as hypocretin) neurons of the lateral hypothalamus. Narcolepsy type 1 (NT1) is characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness and cataplexy, accompanied by sleep-wake symptoms, such as hallucinations, sleep paralysis and disturbed sleep. Diagnosis is based on these clinical features and supported by biomarkers: evidence of rapid eye movement sleep periods soon after sleep onset; cerebrospinal fluid orexin deficiency; and positivity for HLA-DQB1*06:02. Symptomatic treatment with stimulant and anticataplectic drugs is usually efficacious. This Review focuses on our current understanding of how genetic, environmental and immune-related factors contribute to a prominent (but not isolated) orexin signalling deficiency in patients with NT1. Data supporting the view of NT1 as a hypothalamic disorder affecting not only sleep-wake but also motor, psychiatric, emotional, cognitive, metabolic and autonomic functions are presented, along with uncertainties concerning the 'narcoleptic borderland', including narcolepsy type 2 (NT2). The limitations of current diagnostic criteria for narcolepsy are discussed, and a possible new classification system incorporating the borderland conditions is presented. Finally, advances and obstacles in the symptomatic and causal treatment of narcolepsy are reviewed.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Rheumatology Clinic and Institute of Physical Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Health Sciences > Neurology (clinical)
Life Sciences > Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
Language:English
Date:1 September 2019
Deposited On:16 Aug 2019 12:10
Last Modified:16 Apr 2020 00:01
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:1759-4758
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/s41582-019-0226-9
PubMed ID:31324898

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