Is Narcolepsy Genetic? Know The Fact Behind It

By on August 4, 2014

Is Narcolepsy genetic? Yes it is. Genetic link is one of the causes for narcolepsy. It is caused by narcolepsy and environmental causes.

Narcolepsy trends to have family history. For a person having a close narcoleptic relative increases, the risk of developing narcolepsy increases by 8% to 10% and with having narcoleptic family increases the risk by 20 to 40 times when compared to person who is not having any narcoleptic relative or family member.

Is Narcolepsy GeneticHowever, genetics is not the only cause for narcolepsy. Other causes of narcolepsy, which include environmental causes, are stress, immune system problems, trauma, infection, etc. However, there are still many other causes for developing narcolepsy, which are still unknown.

Narcolepsy is classified in narcolepsy without cataplexy, and with cataplexy. A person having narcolepsy without cataplexy will showing symptoms like excessive daytime sleepiness, hypnagogic hallucinations , sleep paralysis, falling asleep at abnormal times like while eating, etc, entering into REM within just 5 minutes after sleep, etc.

And in a person narcolepsy with cataplexy show all the above symptoms along with loss of sudden muscle functioning like limpness at knee, sagging of facial skin, knee buckling, and sometimes complete collapse of body. These symptoms may last for few seconds, but may occur many times in a day.

Genes that are Related to Narcolepsy

According to a research conducted human gene named “HLA-DQB1” especially HLA-DQB1*0602 is strongly related to narcolepsy with cataplexy.

One of common cause of Narcolepsy with cataplexy is caused due to deficiency of a protein produced by neurons in brain known as hypocretin or orexin. This is protein is responsible for regulation of regular sleep wake cycle.

Official name of HLA-DQB1 is Major histocompatibility complex, class II, DQ beta 1. This is a specific subtype of human leukocyte antigen (HLA), which plays an important role in immune system.

HLA complex helps our body’s immune system in distinguishing proteins produced by our body, and foreign bodies like bacteria, virus, etc.

According to suggestions of some studies, HLA-DQB1*0602 is strongly associated with narcolepsy with cataplexy, and loss of protein hypocretin. Nearly 90% of people narcoleptics with cataplexy is associated with HLA-DQB1*0602.