Type 1 narcolepsy: a CD8(+) T cell-mediated disease?

Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences

PubMedID: 26096261

Degn M, Kornum BR. Type 1 narcolepsy: a CD8(+) T cell-mediated disease?. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2015;.
Type 1 narcolepsy is a sleep disorder characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness with unintentional sleep attacks and cataplexy. The disorder is caused by a loss of hypocretinergic neurons in the brain. The specific loss of these neurons in narcolepsy is thought to result from an autoimmune attack, and this is supported by evidence of both environmental and genetic factors pointing toward an involvement of the immune system. However, definitive proof of an autoimmune etiology is still missing. Several different immune-mediated disorders targeting neurons are known, and many of these are believed to be caused by autoreactive CD8(+) T cells. In this paper, we review the current knowledge on CD8(+) T cell-mediated neuronal damage on the basis of our understanding of other autoimmune disorders and experimental studies. We identify major histocompatibility complex class I presentation of autoantigens on neurons as a possible mechanism in the development of the disease, and propose T cell-mediated pathogenesis, with cytotoxic CD8(+) T cells targeting the hypocretinergic neurons, as a central element.