Study linking narcolepsy to autoimmunity retracted

Data linking disorder to immune cells couldn’t be replicated, scientists say

Scientists have retracted a December 2013 study suggesting that narcolepsy is caused by an immune attack on one’s own tissues (SN: 1/25/14, p. 12). The study, led by researchers at Stanford University, had found that people with narcolepsy had cadres of immune T cells that targeted neurons making the peptide orexin (also called hypocretin), a neurotransmitter crucial for staying awake. Earlier research had shown that people with narcolepsy lack such orexin-making neurons. But in subsequent experiments, the scientists have been unable to replicate their main result: a stronger autoimmune reaction in T cells from people with narcolepsy than in those from people without the condition. The retraction appears in the July 30 Science Translational Medicine.

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