Plasma levels of tumor necrosis factor α and soluble tumor necrosis factor receptors in patients with narcolepsy

Hubertus Himmerich, Pierre A. Beitinger, Stephany Fulda, Renate Wehrle, Jakob Linseisen, Günther Wolfram, Stephanie Himmerich, Kurt Gedrich, Thomas C. Wetter, Thomas Pollmächer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Background: Narcolepsy is a disabling sleep disorder characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness, cataplexy, hypnagogic hallucinations, and sleep paralysis. Recent studies suggest that the immune system might play a pathogenic role pointing to a possible involvement of inflammatory cytokines. Methods: We investigated a sample of 30 patients with narcolepsy in comparison with 120 sex- and age-matched and 101 sex-, body mass index (BMI)-, and age-matched randomly selected normal controls. In these groups, plasma concentrations of tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α) and its soluble receptors p55 and p75 (soluble TNF receptor [sTNF-R] p55 and sTNF-R p75) were measured using commercial enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. Results: The narcoleptic patients showed a significantly higher BMI compared with controls of the same age. Soluble TNF-R p75 levels were consistently elevated in the narcoleptic patients compared with their sex- and age-matched (P = .001) as well as sex-, BMI-, and age-matched counterparts (P=.003). Female narcoleptic patients exhibited higher sTNF-R p55 levels compared with their sex- and age-matched controls (P=.01), but this difference disappeared when comparing patients with sex-, BMI-, and age-matched normal controls. Tumor necrosis factor α levels did not differ significantly between groups. Conclusion: Narcoleptic patients show increased plasma levels of sTNF-R p75, suggesting a functional alteration of the TNF-α cytokine system, further corroborating a possible pathogenic role of the immune system in this sleep disorder.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1739-1743
Number of pages5
JournalArchives of Internal Medicine
Issue number16
StatePublished - 18 Sep 2006


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