STUDY OBJECTIVES: The assay currently used worldwide to measure cerebrospinal fluid hypocretin-1 (CSF-hcrt-1) for diagnosing narcolepsy uses a competitive radioimmunoassay with polyclonal anti-hcrt-1 antibodies. This assay detects multiple hypocretin-1 immunoreactive species in the CSF that are all derived from full-length hcrt-1. We aimed to revalidate CSF-hcrt-1 cut-offs for narcolepsy type 1 (NT1) diagnosis and to evaluate temporal changes in CSF-hcrt-1 levels in patients suspected of having central hypersomnia.
METHOD: We carried out a repeat lumbar puncture with a mean follow-up of 4.0 years, to measure CSF-hcrt-1 in patients suspected of having central hypersomnia in a follow-up study. Data from CSF samples of patients with NT1 and of controls without known hypersomnia, from the Italian-Stanford and Danish populations, were examined using a receiver-operating characteristic analysis.
RESULTS: The optimal CSF-hcrt-1 cut-offs for identifying NT1 were 129 pg/ml and 179 pg/ml for the Italian-Stanford and Danish populations, respectively. The sensitivity was 0.93-0.99 and the specificity was 1. Follow-up lumbar puncture measurements of CSF-hcrt-1 were obtained from 73 patients. 30 of 32 patients with low CSF-hcrt-1 levels continued to be categorized as low, with an unaltered diagnosis; two patients showed a marked increase in CSF-hcrt-1, attaining normal values at follow-up. One of these patients relapsed to low CSF-hcrt-1 after follow-up. All 41 patients with normal CSF-hcrt-1 at baseline had normal CSF-hcrt-1 at follow-up.
CONCLUSION: CSF-hcrt-1 measurement can provide an accurate test for diagnosing NT1, although it is important to validate the CSF-hcrt-1 cut-off for specific testing locations. Stable CSF-hcrt-1 levels support the already established prognosis of narcolepsy as permanent once the disorder has fully developed.