Gene Variant for Narcolepsy with Cataplexy is Identified

Study published in Sleep journal found subject with a particular DQB1 variant had 251X higher risk for narcolepsy with cataplexy.

DQB1 Locus Alone Explains Most of the Risk and Protection in Narcolepsy with Cataplexy in Europe

Study Objective:

Prior research has identified five common genetic variants associated with narcolepsy with cataplexy in Caucasian patients. To replicate and/or extend these findings, we have tested HLA-DQB1, the previously identified 5 variants, and 10 other potential variants in a large European sample of narcolepsy with cataplexy subjects.

Design:

Retrospective case-control study.

Setting:

A recent study showed that over 76% of significant genome-wide association variants lie within DNase I hypersensitive sites (DHSs). From our previous GWAS, we identified 30 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) with P < 10-4 mapping to DHSs. Ten SNPs tagging these sites, HLADQB1, and all previously reported SNPs significantly associated with narcolepsy were tested for replication.

Patients and Participants:

For GWAS, 1,261 narcolepsy patients and 1,422 HLA-DQB1*06:02-matched controls were included. For HLA study, 1,218 patients and 3,541 controls were included.

Measurements and Results:

None of the top variants within DHSs were replicated. Out of the five previously reported SNPs, only rs2858884 within the HLA region (P < 2×10-9) and rs1154155 within the TRA locus (P < 2×10-8) replicated. DQB1 typing confirmed that DQB1*06:02 confers an extraordinary risk (odds ratio 251). Four protective alleles (DQB1*06:03, odds ratio 0.17, DQB1*05:01, odds ratio 0.56, DQB1*06:09 odds ratio 0.21, DQB1*02 odds ratio 0.76) were also identified.

Conclusion:

An overwhelming portion of genetic risk for narcolepsy with cataplexy is found at DQB1 locus. Since DQB1*06:02 positive subjects are at 251-fold increase in risk for narcolepsy, and all recent cases of narcolepsy after H1N1 vaccination are positive for this allele, DQB1 genotyping may be relevant to public health policy.

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