Development of cataplexy in genetically narcoleptic Dobermans EXPERIMENTAL NEUROLOGY Riehl, J., Nishino, S., Cederberg, R., Dement, W. C., Mignot, E. 1998; 152 (2): 292-302


Forty-two genetically narcoleptic Doberman puppies [20 pure narcoleptic (N) puppies (from four narcoleptic x narcoleptic crosses) and 22 backcross narcoleptic (BN) puppies (from six narcoleptic x heterozygous crosses)] were systematically observed during the developmental period (4-24 weeks) to assess the age at onset and severity of cataplexy, a pathological manifestation of REM sleep atonia seen in narcolepsy. The mean age of onset of cataplexy was 9.69 +/- 1.15 weeks, with a median age of 7 weeks. The severity of cataplexy increased with age and reached a plateau at around 16-24 weeks. The effects of cross type (N vs BN) and sex on the development of cataplexy were analyzed. There was no difference in severity between N and BN puppies (P = 0.51). However, females had more severe cataplexy than males (P = 0.01), and this trend was preserved in five of the six litters that had both male and female puppies. These results suggest that the pathophysiological process in genetic canine narcolepsy emerges during the early developmental period and that it may involve a differential development in males and females. Furthermore, our results revealed that cataplexy onset corresponds to the emergence of adult-like REM sleep and to previously reported neuroanatomical and neurochemical abnormalities in canine narcolepsy.

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