Gene Might Be Linked to Sleep Disorder Narcolepsy

The medical condition that causes people to become excessively sleepy and even lapse into sleep involuntarily could be linked to a hereditary deficiency. The new evidence suggests that Narcolepsy is, in fact, an autoimmune disease associated with particular inherited variations in a gene that encodes a protein found on a type of immune cell. This cell type called a T cell plays a crucial role in targeting immune responses.

The genetic variation is fairly common, while Narcolepsy is rare. Among more than 2,500 participants, researchers found that people with the variation are 251 times more likely to have Narcolepsy with cataplexy, muscle weakness brought on by actions such as laughter, than those without the variation.

For the study, which was published in the journal Sleep, researchers analyzed the genetic makeup of nearly 1,300 people in Europe who suffer from Narcolepsy with cataplexy and more than 1,400 people who don’t. Nearly everyone with the condition had the genetic variation, which is linked to the functioning of the immune system.

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, previous research has suggested a link between Narcolepsy and problems such as infections. One theory is that in people who are genetically susceptible