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Rev Neurol (Paris). 1998 Feb;154(2):111-29.

[Wake disorders. I. Primary wake disorders].

[Article in French]

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  • 1Service de Neurologie B, Hôpital Gui de Chauliac, Montpellier.


Primary wake disorders encompass various conditions of excessive daytime sleepiness and/or increased nighttime sleep, of unknown origin beginning most often in adolescence and of chronic or recurrent natural history. The best known of these conditions is narcolepsy associating two major clinical features, irresistible episodes of sleep, sleep onset REM periods and an almost constant association with HLA DR2-DQ1. The prevalence of the condition is close to the one of multiple sclerosis but positive diagnosis requires most often over 10 years to be made. The treatment of excessive daytime sleepiness has recently benefited from a new non-amphetamine awakening compound, modafinil, active in 60 to 70 p. 100 of the cases. The treatment of cataplexy still relies on antidepressants, tricyclics or selective serotonin reuptake blockers. Major advances in pathophysiology and pathogeny have been obtained through a natural model of the disease, canine narcolepsy. Pharmacological studies point to the importance of alpha-1 b adrenergic mechanisms in cataplexy, while dopaminergic systems seem more involved in excessive daytime sleepiness. As concerns genetics, the HLA DQB1*0602 gene predisposes to narcolepsy. In the canine model it is mirrored by an autosomal recessive gene showing a strong homology with the human immunoglobulin gene mu-switch. Familial studies have shown that besides typical phenotypes, attenuated forms of the condition characterized by isolated recurrent daytime naps and/or lapses into sleep do exist. In addition one or several other genes may be involved. Narcolepsy is multifactorial, including one or several genes as well as environmental factors. Idiopathic hypersomnia is noted for very long night sleep, difficulty waking up and more or less constant excessive daytime sleepiness. In contrast with narcolepsy sleep in not refreshing. There is no polysomnographic or immunogenetic special feature. Idiopathic hypersomnia is 10 times less frequent than narcolepsy. It is often overdiagnosed due to insufficient knowledge of other causes of excessive daytime sleepiness such as the upper airway resistance syndrome. Modafinil is also of great value in the treatment of idiopathic hypersomnia. In the absence of an animal model, pathophysiology and pathogeny are still poorly understood. Even rarer is the Kleine-Levin syndrome which is easily distinguishable through its recurrent character and its tendency to progressively disappear. It mainly occurs in early adolescent males. Its main features are episodes of sleep of a week duration recurring at a several months' interval along with disturbances of alimentary and sexual behavior. There is no satisfactory treatment of hypersomniac episodes. On the other hand a prophylactic treatment with carbamazepine or lithium may be active. Pathophysiology remains unsettled in spite of some evidence of a hypothalamic functional disturbance.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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