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New developments in the management of narcolepsy

Authors Abad VC, Guilleminault C

Received 15 November 2016

Accepted for publication 29 November 2016

Published 3 March 2017 Volume 2017:9 Pages 39—57


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Steven A Shea

Vivien C Abad, Christian Guilleminault

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Division of Sleep Medicine, Stanford University Outpatient Center, Redwood City, CA, USA

Abstract: Narcolepsy is a life-long, underrecognized sleep disorder that affects 0.02%–0.18% of the US and Western European populations. Genetic predisposition is suspected because of narcolepsy’s strong association with HLA DQB1*06-02, and genome-wide association studies have identified polymorphisms in T-cell receptor loci. Narcolepsy pathophysiology is linked to loss of signaling by hypocretin-producing neurons; an autoimmune etiology possibly triggered by some environmental agent may precipitate hypocretin neuronal loss. Current treatment modalities alleviate the main symptoms of excessive daytime somnolence (EDS) and cataplexy and, to a lesser extent, reduce nocturnal sleep disruption, hypnagogic hallucinations, and sleep paralysis. Sodium oxybate (SXB), a sodium salt of γ hydroxybutyric acid, is a first-line agent for cataplexy and EDS and may help sleep disruption, hypnagogic hallucinations, and sleep paralysis. Various antidepressant medications including norepinephrine serotonin reuptake inhibitors, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and tricyclic antidepressants are second-line agents for treating cataplexy. In addition to SXB, modafinil and armodafinil are first-line agents to treat EDS. Second-line agents for EDS are stimulants such as methylphenidate and extended-release amphetamines. Emerging therapies include non-hypocretin-based therapy, hypocretin-based treatments, and immunotherapy to prevent hypocretin neuronal death. Non-hypocretin-based novel treatments for narcolepsy include pitolisant (BF2.649, tiprolisant); JZP-110 (ADX-N05) for EDS in adults; JZP 13-005 for children; JZP-386, a deuterated sodium oxybate oral suspension; FT 218 an extended-release formulation of SXB; and JNJ-17216498, a new formulation of modafinil. Clinical trials are investigating efficacy and safety of SXB, modafinil, and armodafinil in children. γ-amino butyric acid (GABA) modulation with GABAA receptor agonists clarithromycin and flumazenil may help daytime somnolence. Other drugs investigated include GABAB agonists (baclofen), melanin-concentrating hormone antagonist, and thyrotropin-releasing hormone agonists. Hypocretin-based therapies include hypocretin peptide replacement administered either through an intracerebroventricular route or intranasal route. Hypocretin neuronal transplant and transforming stem cells into hypothalamic neurons are also discussed in this article. Immunotherapy to prevent hypocretin neuronal death is reviewed.

Keywords: narcolepsy, cataplexy, emerging treatment, sodium oxybate, pitolisant, JZP-110, hypocretin peptide, immunotherapy

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