A genetic variant associated with narcolepsy is reported in online in this week’s issue of Nature Genetics.
Narcolepsy is a neurological sleep disorder whose main symptoms include excessive sleepiness during the day, disturbed sleep patterns at night and falling asleep at inappropriate times. Narcolepsy affects 1 in every 2000 people and is known to be caused by reduction or loss of a specific set of neurons in the brain.
Emmanuel Mignot and colleagues analyzed the genomes of 3,406 Europeans, 2,414 Asians, and 302 African Americans and report that genetic variants at the P2RY11 gene are associated with narcolepsy. The P2RY11 gene encodes a protein that is expressed in immune cells. The authors suggest that further work to explore the hypothesis that narcolepsy is an autoimmune disease is warranted.