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Sleep. 2006 May;29(5):633-8.

Detection of autoantibodies against hypocretin, hcrtrl, and hcrtr2 in narcolepsy: anti-Hcrt system antibody in narcolepsy.

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The Sleep Disorders Project, Department of Sleep Disorders Research, Tokyo Institute of Psychiatry, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo, Japan.



The impairment of hypocretin neurotransmission system is considered to play a major role in the pathophysiology of narcolepsy. It has been hypothesized that autoimmune abnormalities underlie the etiology of narcolepsy, based on the tight association with HLA-DRB1*1501/ DQB1*0602. It remains unclear if autoantibodies against hypocretin receptors (hcrtrl and hcrtr2) are involved in narcolepsy.


We have developed a novel radioligand binding assay to address this question. Sera from 181 patients with narcolepsy, 10 patients with other hypersomnias, and 91 control subjects were used. Human [35S]-Hcrt, hcrtrl, and hcrtr2 were synthesized by in vitro transcription/translation system. The immune complex of autoantibody and each [35S]-protein were immunoprecipitated and quantified using a radioligand-binding assay.


We detected autoantibodies against hypocretin in 3 patients, hcrtrl in 1 patient, and hcrtr2 in 5 patients with narcolepsy. Positive reactions were also found against hcrtrl in 2 and hcrtr2 in 1 control subjects. No relationships were found between these autoantibodies and HLA-DRB1*1501/DQB1*0602 haplotypes, presence of cataplexy, presence of subjective nocturnal sleep disruption, or the score on the Epworth Sleepiness Scale.


Although we have detected autoantibodies against the hypocretin neurotransmission system, our results do not support the hypothesis that autoantibody-mediated dysfunction in the hypocretin system underlies the pathophysiology of narcolepsy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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