Rev Prat. 2016 Jun;66(6):671-6.
[Article in French]


Narcolepsy with cataplexy or narcolepsy type 1 in a rare, disabling sleep disorder, with a prevalence of 20 to 30 per 100,000. Its onset peaks in the second decade. The main features are excessive daytime sleepiness and cataplexy or sudden less of muscle tone triggered by emotional situations. Other less consistent symptoms include hypnagogic hallucinations, sleep paralysis, disturbed nighttime sleep, and weight gain. Narcolepsy with cataplexy remains a clinical diagnosis but nighttime and daytime polysomnography (multiple sleep latency tests) are useful to document mean sleep latency below 8 min and at least two sleep-onset REM periods. HLA typing shows an association with HLA DQB1*0602 in more than 92% of cases but was not included in the new diagnostic criteria. In contrast, a low hypocretin-1/orexin-A levels (values below 110 pg/mL) in the cerebrospinal fluid was highly specific for narcolepsy with cataplexy and was included in the recent diagnostic criteria for narcolepsy. The deficiency of the hypocretin system is well-established in human narcoleptics with a reduction of cerebrospinal fluid hypocretin levels in relation with an early loss of hypocretin neurons. The cause of human narcolepsy remains unknown, however an autoimmune process in most probable acting on a highly genetic background with environmental factors such as streptococcal infections, and H1N1 AS03-adjuvanted vaccine named Pandemrix.

Publication types

  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cataplexy
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Narcolepsy* / diagnosis
  • Narcolepsy* / physiopathology

Supplementary concepts

  • Narcolepsy 1