Animal Models of Narcolepsy
Lichao Chen, Ritchie E. Brown, James T. McKenna and Robert W. McCarley
Affiliation: Research Service, 151C, VA Boston Healthcare System, Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, 940 Belmont St., Brockton, MA 02301, USA.
Narcolepsy is a debilitating sleep disorder with excessive daytime sleepiness and cataplexy as its two major symptoms. Although this disease was first described about one century ago, an animal model was not available until the 1970s. With the establishment of the Stanford canine narcolepsy colony, researchers were able to conduct multiple neurochemical studies to explore the pathophysiology of this disease. It was concluded that there was an imbalance between monoaminergic and cholinergic systems in canine narcolepsy. In 1999, two independent studies revealed that orexin neurotransmission deficiency was pivotal to the development of narcolepsy with cataplexy. This scientific leap fueled the generation of several genetically engineered mouse and rat models of narcolepsy. To facilitate further research, it is imperative that researchers reach a consensus concerning the evaluation of narcoleptic behavioral and EEG phenomenology in these models.
Keywords: Narcolepsy, Cataplexy, Sleep, EEG, Animal model, Rodent, Canine, REM
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