Clinical Characteristics of Cataplectic Attacks in Type 1 Narcolepsy

Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep. 2020 Jul 11;20(9):38. doi: 10.1007/s11910-020-01057-z.


Purpose of review: Narcolepsy is a central disorder of hypersomnolence with symptoms of excessive daytime sleepiness, sleep paralysis, and cataplexy. Cataplexy is the sudden loss of muscle tone in either the face, neck, trunk, and/or limbs, leading to a loss of voluntary muscle control. This article reviews recent research on the clinical characteristics of cataplexy.

Recent findings: Longitudinal research in adults suggests that there may be a remission of cataplectic severity after symptom stabilization. First-line treatment options for cataplexy include sodium oxybate and pitolisant, with many drugs such as AXS-12, FT218, and JZP258 under investigation. Patients with cataplexy reported greater limitations of daily activities such as driving and exercise compared to patients without cataplexy. Cataplexy remains a challenge for children and adults with narcolepsy and can interfere with daily activities. There is no cure for narcolepsy, but cataplexy can be well-managed with current and promising new treatment options on the horizon.

Keywords: Cataplexy; Narcolepsy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cataplexy* / drug therapy
  • Child
  • Disorders of Excessive Somnolence*
  • Humans
  • Narcolepsy* / diagnosis
  • Narcolepsy* / drug therapy
  • Sodium Oxybate* / therapeutic use


  • Sodium Oxybate