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Narcolepsy – Is It An Autoimmune Disorder That Causes EDS

Narcolepsy is a daytime drowsiness, cataplexy, hypnagogic hallucinations and irregular sleep at night. The sleep disorder is commonly under diagnosed. A typical delay of 10 years is normal for the sufferer to indentify something like a disorder, when it comes to narcolepsy, in them.  They retrospectively report the symptoms in between the adolescence and begging years of their teen age. The disorder gradually affects the social and academic performance of the victim which remains unnoticed various years. The symptoms of the disease are often misinterpreted by the parents and teachers and the disease remains under diagnosed.

Basic Symptoms of Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy Cause Excessive Daytime Sleepiness And Sleep Attacks

Narcolepsy has four classic symptoms which are rarely manifest together in the patient, they four are

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Hypnagogic hallucinations
  • Sleep paralysis
  • Cataplexy

EDS is normal with prolonged wakefulness but with the narcolepsy patients it is of a severe level. It sometimes leads to involuntary somnolence during driving or eating. Cataplexy is a sudden loss of muscle tone and strength. It is seen around 70 percent of patients and when it is combined with EDS it a clear indication of narcolepsy. Sleep paralysis usually goes along with hallucinations and is an inability to move upon awakening. Disrupted nocturnal sleep and obesity are also commonly noticed with narcolepsy. And in children it may have some diverse symptoms like restlessness and motor over activity.

Lack Of Hypocretin May Trigger Narcolepsy

It is believed that the disease stems from the deficiency of hypocratin, a hormone responsible for wakefulness in the body. Later it has also been discovered that narcoleptics is nothing but a missing cell in the brain that produces hypocretin. Mignot an investigator from Howard Hughes Medical Institute who has contently been studding the disease had showed that immune system plays an important role in killing that missing cell only because there is a close connection between variant for the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) gene and the narcolepsy.  The immune system uses the HLA to differentiate between foreign and self cells and kills those are foreign.

Mystery Of T Cell – The Specialized Immune Cell

The researchers were highly curious to reveal the truth behind missing cell so they ran a whole genome scans to analyze all possible genetic variations on a major group of 1,800 people with same HLA gene variant. They finally came up with not less then 800 narcolepsy positive people. Now they had to find out the object that is causing narcolepsy in them. They found a specialized immune cell called T cell which participates in all immune responses and was present in narcolepsy. Thus the researchers could finally prove that narcolepsy is an autoimmune disease.

Is Narcolepsy An Autoimmune Disease?

The exact cause behind the narcolepsy is unknown but with number of researches done on the disease it very much evident that there is an autoimmune process involved in the development of the disease.  The T cell and HLA interact in a way that kills the hypocretin cells; however, how it happens is not discovered yet. Now the scientists may try blocking those specific gene variants in a person who is predisposed to narcolepsy to stop the development of the disease but further research is needed to fully understand the functionally and to reach up to a conclusion.