More than 100 research papers covering narcolepsy have been published so far in 2014. Here are five finding highlights that may be especially relevant to sleep professionals.

Dual cases of narcolepsy and schizophrenia may be underdiagnosed, as onset is unusually early. Narcolepsy may share an autoimmune pathology with psychosis.1

Four miRNAs levels differed in plasma from patients with type 1 narcolepsy, type 2 narcolepsy, and idiopathic hypersomnia compared to 12 healthy controls. This suggests alterations of miRNAs may be involved in the pathophysiology of central hypersomnias.2

Stanford researchers have retracted a 2013 study that described a possible immunological connection between narcolepsy and the H1N1 influenza virus, due to being unable to replicate some of the results reported in the paper.3

By fMRI, it is possible to identify anatomical biomarkers of brain function related to narcolepsy and Kleine-Levin syndrome and their concomitant symptoms, but the clinical use of fMRI must be validated in future studies.4

In a survey, only 42% of sleep specialists and 9% of primary care physicians (PCPs) felt “very” or “extremely” comfortable diagnosing narcolepsy. Only 22% of sleep specialists and 7% of PCPs identified all five key narcolepsy symptoms; no participant in the general population could identify all five symptoms.5


1. Canellas F, et al. Dual Cases of Type 1 Narcolepsy with Schizophrenia and Other Psychotic Disorders. J Clin Sleep Med. 2014;10(9).

2. Holm A, et al. miRNA Profiles in Plasma from Patients with Sleep Disorders Reveal Dysregulation of miRNAs in Narcolepsy and Other Central Hypersomnias. Sleep. 2014;37(9).

3. De la Herran-Arita AK, et al. Retraction Of The Research Article: “Cd4+ T Cell Autoimmunity To Hypocretin/Orexin And Cross-Reactivity To A 2009 H1n1 Influenza A Epitope In Narcolepsy.” Sci Transl Med. 2014;6(247):247rt1.

4. Engström M, et al. Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Narcolepsy and the Kleine–Levin Syndrome. Front Neurol. 2014;5:105.

5. Rosenberg R, Kim AY. The AWAKEN survey: Knowledge of Narcolepsy Among Physicians and the General Population. Postgrad Med. 2014;126(1):78-86.