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Narcolepsy Type 1 as an Autoimmune Disorder: Evidence, and Implications for Pharmacological Treatment.
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Narcolepsy Type 1 as an Autoimmune Disorder: Evidence, and Implications for Pharmacological Treatment.

CNS Drugs. 2017 Oct;31(10):821-834

Authors: Barateau L, Liblau R, Peyron C, Dauvilliers Y

Abstract
Narcolepsy type 1 (NT1) is a rare sleep disorder caused by the very specific loss of hypothalamic hypocretin (Hcrt)/orexin neurons. The exact underlying process leading to this destruction is yet unknown, but indirect evidence strongly supports an autoimmune origin. The association with immune-related genetic factors, in particular the strongest association ever reported in a disease with an allele of a human leukocyte antigen (HLA) gene, and with environmental factors (i.e., the H1N1 influenza infection and vaccination during the pandemic in 2009) are in favor of such a hypothesis. The loss of Hcrt neurons is irreversible, and NT1 is currently an incurable and disabling condition. Patients are managed with symptomatic medication, targeting the main symptoms (excessive daytime sleepiness, cataplexy, disturbed nocturnal sleep), and they require a lifelong treatment. Improved diagnostic tools, together with an increased understanding of the pathogenesis of NT1, may lead to new therapeutic and even preventive interventions. One future treatment could include Hcrt replacement, but this neuropeptide does not cross the blood-brain barrier. However, Hcrt receptor agonists may be promising candidates to treat NT1. Another option is immune-based therapies, administered at disease onset, with already some initiatives to slow down or stop the dysimmune process. Whether immune-based therapy could be beneficial in NT1 remains, however, to be proven.

PMID: 28940143 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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