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Vol. 72, No. 4, 2000
Issue release date: October 2000
Neuroendocrinology 2000;72:195–198

Reduced Leptin Levels in Human Narcolepsy

Schuld A. · Blum W.F. · Uhr M. · Haack M. · Kraus T. · Holsboer F. · Pollmächer T.
aMax Planck Institute of Psychiatry Munich, bLilly Deutschland GmbH, Bad Homburg, and University Children’s Hospital Giessen, Germany

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Recently, hypocretins have been implicated in the pathophysiology of narcolepsy, a sleep disorder characterized particularly by the occurrence of excessive daytime sleepiness and cataplexy. Hypocretins, which stimulate food intake, have been reported to be absent in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of the majority of patients suffering from narcolepsy. Because these patients also display an increased body mass index (BMI), it has been suggested that disturbances in metabolism and food intake regulation may be present. To further investigate these presumed alterations, we studied the production of leptin, a fat-cell-derived hormone signaling to the brain the size of the adipose tissue. We measured the levels of leptin in serum and CSF from 15 narcoleptic patients and compared the results to those from age-, sex- and BMI-matched control groups of depressive patients and patients suffering from a noninflammatory neurological disorder. Compared to both control groups, leptin levels in serum, but not in the CSF, were significantly reduced in narcoleptic patients by more than 50%. These results support the hypothesis that human narcolepsy is accompanied by complex alterations of the regulation of food intake and metabolism. The significance of these alterations for the core symptomatology of narcolepsy should be a target of future research.

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