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J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2008 Nov;79(11):1262-7. doi: 10.1136/jnnp.2007.143420. Epub 2008 Apr 3.

Narcolepsy in Southern Chinese patients: clinical characteristics, HLA typing and seasonality of birth.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Shatin Hospital, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prince of Wales and Shatin Hospitals, Shatin, Hong Kong SAR.



To report clinical characteristics, human leukocyte antigen (HLA) typing and seasonality of birth of a series of 54 Southern Chinese patients suffering from narcolepsy.


All subjects underwent detailed medical and psychiatric interviews and a standardised nocturnal polysomnogram followed by a daytime Multiple Sleep Latency Test. Each subject also completed a set of sleep questionnaires. HLA typing was performed in 91% of subjects.


A total of 78% and 22% of patients were diagnosed with suffering from cataplectic and non-cataplectic narcolepsy, respectively. The majority (n = 47, 87%) of patients were referred to our sleep clinic for excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS). The cataplectic narcolepsy differed from non-cataplectic narcolepsy by having more rapid eye movement (REM)-related clinical symptoms (more sleep paralysis and sleep-related hallucination) and sleep disturbances (shorter REM latency), as well as tighter association with HLA DQB1*0602. A bi-modal peak pattern was observed at 11 and 39 years old. A similar bi-modal pattern also occurred for EDS and cataplexy. Excess winter births were observed for this series of patients. 81% of patients with cataplectic narcolepsy were DQB1*0602-positive. There were no differences between early- and late-onset cases in the association with positive DQB1*0602 (71.4% vs 60%). Narcolepsy had prominent pernicious effects on various social, academic, family and mental aspects in our patients.


In our Southern Chinese narcolepsy series, bi-modal peak pattern of age of onset, excess winter birth and tight association of HLA DQB1*0602 with cataplectic narcolepsy were found.

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