Association analysis of the major histocompatibility complex, class II, DQ β1 gene, HLA-DQB1, with narcolepsy in Han Chinese patients from Taiwan

Sleep Med. 2013 Dec;14(12):1393-7. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2013.06.017. Epub 2013 Sep 29.


Background: Narcolepsy is a rare, chronic, disabling neuropsychiatric disorder characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness, cataplexy, hypnagogic hallucinations, sleep paralysis, and abnormal rapid eye movement sleep. It is strongly associated with the HLA-DQB1(∗)06:02 allele in various ethnic groups. Our study aimed to investigate the allelic spectrum of HLA-DQB1 in a sample of Han Chinese patients with narcolepsy and control subjects from Taiwan.

Methods: We determined the genotype of the major histocompatibility complex, class II, DQ β1 gene, HLA-DQB1, in 72 narcolepsy subjects (44 men, 28 women), including 52 narcolepsy subjects with cataplexy (narcolepsy+cataplexy), 20 narcolepsy subjects without cataplexy (narcolepsy-cataplexy), and 194 control subjects (94 men, 100 women) using a sequence-specific oligonucleotide-probe hybridization technique.

Results: We found a strong HLA-DQB1(∗)06:02 association in narcolepsy+cataplexy subjects (odds ratio [OR], 321.4 [95% confidence interval {CI}, 70.7-1461.4]). The association was less prominent in narcolepsy-cataplexy subjects (OR, 6.9 [95% CI, 2.4-20.1]). In addition to the DQB1(∗)06:02, we found that (∗)03:01 also was a predisposing allele (OR, 2.0 [95% CI, 1.1-3.7]) in narcolepsy+cataplexy subjects, though the (∗)06:01 was a predisposing allele (OR, 2.8 [95% CI, 1.2-6.7]) in narcolepsy-cataplexy subjects. Furthermore, we found a significant overrepresentation of DQB1(∗)06:02 homozygotes in narcolepsy+cataplexy subjects.

Conclusions: Our data add further support to the strong association of the HLA-DQB1(∗)06:02 allele with narcolepsy, especially in narcolepsy+cataplexy patients. Our study also indicates additional HLA-DQB1 alleles may modify the presentation of narcolepsy+cataplexy patients, such as DQB1(∗)03:01 and DQB1(∗)06:01 in our study. Our results are limited by the small sample size and can only be considered as preliminary findings.

Keywords: Association; Cataplexy; Genetics; Human leukocyte antigen (HLA); Narcolepsy; Pathogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Asian People / genetics*
  • Asian People / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cataplexy / ethnology
  • Cataplexy / genetics
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / ethnology
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics
  • HLA-DQ beta-Chains / genetics*
  • Human Growth Hormone
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Narcolepsy / ethnology*
  • Narcolepsy / genetics*
  • Risk Factors
  • Taiwan / epidemiology


  • HLA-DQ beta-Chains
  • HLA-DQB1 antigen
  • Human Growth Hormone