It is not every day that narcolepsy is subject to publication in one of the world’s leading science journals, Nature. The paper of Latorre et al. published in September, further supports the hypothesis of an underlying autoimmune process in narcolepsy. The authors (many of them members of the EU-NN), showed for the first time the existence of autoreactive T lymphocytes (cells of the immune system) that recognize hypocretin and can mediate an immune response leading to loss of hypocretin neurons.The researchers used a sensitive method to interrogate the T cells repertoire of patients with narcolepsy. They try to identify T cells that react against hypocretin and other proteins expressed in hypocretin neurons. This is the first ever observation of hypocretin-reactive CD4+ T cell clones in narcoleptic patients, but not in HLA DQB1*06:02 positive-controls.
The article, entitled: “T cells in patients with narcolepsy target self-antigens of hypocretin neurons” (authors: Daniela Latorre, Ulf Kallweit, Eric Armentani, Mathilde Foglierini, Federico Mele, Antonino Cassotta, Sandra Jovic, David Jarrossay, Johannes Mathis, Francesco Zellini, Burkhard Becher, Antonio Lanzavecchia, Ramin Khatami, Mauro Manconi, Mehdi Tafti, Claudio L. Bassetti, Federica Sallusto) is available here.