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Neurosci Lett. 2013 Jun 7;544:31-5. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2013.03.031. Epub 2013 Apr 6.

Increased serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels in patients with narcolepsy.

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Neurobiology Research Unit, Copenhagen University Hospital, Rigshospitalet, Denmark.


Narcolepsy is a lifelong sleep disorder characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness, sudden loss of muscle tone (cataplexy), fragmentation of nocturnal sleep and sleep paralysis. The symptoms of the disease strongly correlate with a reduction in hypocretin levels in CSF and a reduction in hypocretin neurons in hypothalamus in post-mortem tissue. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and nerve growth factor (NGF) are important for activity-dependent neuronal function and synaptic modulation and it is considered that these mechanisms are important in sleep regulation. We hypothesized that serum levels of these factors are altered in patients with narcolepsy compared to healthy controls without sleep disturbances. Polysomnography data was obtained and serum BDNF and NGF levels measured using ELISA, while hypocretin was measured using RIA. Serum BDNF levels were significantly higher in narcolepsy patients than in healthy controls (64.2±3.9 ng/ml vs. 47.3±2.6 ng/ml, P<0.01), while there were no significant differences in NGF levels. As expected, narcolepsy patients had higher BMI compared to controls, but BMI did not correlate with the serum BDNF levels. The change in BDNF levels was not related to disease duration and sleep parameters did not correlate with BDNF in narcolepsy patients. The mechanisms behind the marked increase in BDNF levels in narcolepsy patients remain unknown.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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