Article

A Practical Guide to the Therapy of Narcolepsy and Hypersomnia Syndromes

Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine, Stanford University Medical School, Palo Alto, CA, 94304, USA, .
Journal of the American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics (Impact Factor: 3.88). 10/2012; 9(4):739-52. DOI: 10.1007/s13311-012-0150-9
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Narcolepsy and other syndromes associated with excessive daytime sleepiness can be challenging to treat. New classifications now distinguish narcolepsy/hypocretin deficiency (also called type 1 narcolepsy), a lifelong disorder with well-established diagnostic procedures and etiology, from other syndromes with hypersomnolence of unknown causes. Klein-Levin Syndrome, a periodic hypersomnia associated with cognitive and behavioral abnormalities, is also considered a separate entity with separate therapeutic protocols. Non hypocretin-related hypersomnia syndromes are diagnoses of exclusion. These diagnoses are only made after eliminating sleep deprivation, sleep apnea, disturbed nocturnal sleep, and psychiatric comorbidities as the primary cause of daytime sleepiness. The treatment of narcolepsy/hypocretin deficiency is well-codified, and involves pharmacotherapies using sodium oxybate, stimulants, and/or antidepressants, plus behavioral modifications. These therapies are almost always needed, and the risk-to-benefit ratio is clear, notably in children. Detailed knowledge of the pharmacological profile of each compound is needed to optimize use. Treatment for other syndromes with hypersomnolence is more challenging and less codified. Preferably, therapy should be conservative (such as modafinil, atomoxetine, behavioral modifications), but it may have to be more aggressive (high-dose stimulants, sodium oxybate, etc.) on a case-by-case, empirical trial basis. As cause and evolution are unknown in these conditions, it is important to challenge diagnosis and therapy over time, keeping in mind the possibility of tolerance and the development of stimulant addiction. Kleine-Levin Syndrome is usually best left untreated, although lithium can be considered in severe cases with frequent episodes. Guidelines are provided based on the literature and personal experience of the author.

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    • "The clinician should have complete familiarity with the mechanisms of action, dosing regimens, and the rationale for specific use of each of the medications [46]. Therapies should be initiated at an appropriate level, and should be titrated up or down as necessary when the need arises. "
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    ABSTRACT: Despite published treatment recommendations and the availability of approved and off-label pharmacologic therapies for narcolepsy, clinical management of this incurable, chronic neurologic disorder remains challenging. While treatment is generally symptomatically driven, decisions regarding which drug(s) to use need to take into account a variety of factors that may affect adherence, efficacy, and tolerability. Type 1 narcolepsy (predominantly excessive daytime sleepiness with cataplexy) or type 2 narcolepsy (excessive daytime sleepiness without cataplexy) may drive treatment decisions, with consideration given either to a single drug that targets multiple symptoms or multiple drugs that each treat a specific symptom. Other drug-related characteristics that affect drug choice are dosing regimens, tolerability, and potential drug-drug interactions. Additionally, the patient should be an active participant in treatment decisions, and the main symptomatic complaints, treatment goals, psychosocial setting, and use of lifestyle substances (i.e., alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, cannabis) need to be discussed with respect to treatment decisions. Although there is a lack of narcolepsy-specific instruments for monitoring therapeutic effects, clinically relevant subjective and objective measures of daytime sleepiness (e.g., Epworth Sleepiness Scale, Maintenance of Wakefulness Test) can be used to provide guidance on whether treatment goals are being met. These considerations are discussed with the objective of providing clinically relevant recommendations for making treatment decisions that can enhance effective management of patients with narcolepsy.
    Sleep Medicine 10/2014; 16(1). DOI:10.1016/j.sleep.2014.10.002 · 3.10 Impact Factor
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    • "This sleepiness is most troublesome during periods of inactivity, though it is often improved temporarily by a brief nap. As a consequence of sleepiness, patients may report inattention, poor memory, blurry vision, diplopia, and automatic behaviors such as driving without awareness [1] [2] [3] "
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    ABSTRACT: Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness, cataplexy, hypnagonic hallucinations, sleep paralysis, and disturbed nocturnal sleep patterns. This disease is secondary to the specific loss of hypothalamic hypocretin (orexin)-producing neurons in the lateral hypothalamus. An autoimmune basis for the disease has long been suspected based on its strong association with the genetic marker DQB1∗06:02, and current studies greatly support this hypothesis. Narcolepsy with hypocretin deficiency is associated with human leukocyte antigen (HLA) and T cell receptor (TCR) polymorphisms, suggesting that an autoimmune process targets a peptide unique to hypocretin-producing neurons via specific HLA-peptide-TCR interactions. This concept has gained a lot of notoriety after the increase of childhood narcolepsy in 2010 following the 2009 H1N1 pandemic (pH1N1) in China and vaccination with Pandemrix, an adjuvanted H1N1 vaccine that was used in Scandinavia. The surge of narcolepsy cases subsequent to influenza A H1N1 infection and H1N1 vaccination suggests that processes such as molecular mimicry or bystander activation might be crucial for disease development.
    01/2014; 2014:792687. DOI:10.1155/2014/792687
  • Article: Editorial.
    Journal of the American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics 10/2012; 9(4):685-6. DOI:10.1007/s13311-012-0153-6 · 3.88 Impact Factor
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