Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness, cataplexy, hypnagonic hallucinations, sleep paralysis, and disturbed nocturnal sleep patterns. Narcolepsy is caused by the loss of hypocretin (orexin)-producing neurons in the lateral hypothalamus. Evidence, such as a strong association with HLA DQB1*06:02, strongly suggests an autoimmune basis targeting hypocretin neurons. Genome-wide association studies have strengthened the association between narcolepsy and immune system gene polymorphisms, including the identification of polymorphisms in the T cell receptor alpha locus, TNFSF4 (also called OX40L), Cathepsin H (CTSH) the purinergic receptor P2RY11, and the DNA methyltransferase DNMT1. Recently, attention has been raised regarding a spike in cases of childhood narcolepsy in 2010 following the 2009 H1N1 pandemic (pH1N1) in China and vaccination with Pandemrix, an adjuvanted H1N1 vaccine that was used in Europe. How the immune system may be involved in disease initiation and/or progression remains a challenge to researchers. Potential immunological pathways that could lead to the specific elimination of hypocretin producing neurons include molecular mimicry or bystander activation, and are likely a combination of genetic and environmental factors, such as upper airway infections.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.conb.2013.04.013
View details for PubMedID 23725858