Narcolepsy and predictors of positive MSLTs in the Wisconsin sleep cohort

Aviv Goldbart, Paul Peppard, Laurel Finn, Chad M. Ruoff, Jodi Barnet, Terry Young, Emmanuel Mignot

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    94 Scopus citations


    Study Objectives: To study whether positive multiple sleep latency tests (MSLTs, mean sleep latency [MSL] ≤ 8 minutes, ≥ 2 sleep onset REM sleep periods [SOREMPs]) and/or nocturnal SOREMP (REM sleep latency ≤ 15 minutes during nocturnal polysomonography [NPSG]) are stable traits and can reflect incipient narcolepsy. Design and Setting: Cross-sectional and longitudinal investigation of the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study. Participants: Adults (44% females, 30-81 years) underwent NPSG (n = 4,866 in 1,518 subjects), and clinical MSLT (n = 1,135), with 823 having a repeat NPSG-MSLT at 4-year intervals, totaling 1725 NPSG with MSLT studies. Data were analyzed using linear mixed-effects models, and the stability of positive MSLTs was explored using κ statistics. Measurements and Results: Prevalence of a nocturnal SOREMP on a NPSG, of ≥ 2 SOREMPs on the MSLT, of MSL ≤ 8 minutes on the MSLT, and of a positive MSLT (MSL ≤ 8 minutes plus ≥ 2 SOREMPs) were 0.35%, 7.0%, 22%, and 3.4%, respectively. Correlates of a positive MSLT were shift work (OR = 7.8, P = 0.0001) and short sleep (OR = 1.51/h, P = 0.04). Test-retest for these parameters was poor, with κ < 0.2 (n.s.) after excluding shift workers and short sleepers. Excluding shift-work, short sleep, and subjects with negative MSLTs, we found one undiagnosed subject with possible cataplexy (≥ 1/month) and a NPSG SOREMPs; one subject previously diagnosed with narcolepsy without cataplexy with 2 NPSG SOREMPs and a positive MSLT, and two subjects with 2 independently positive MSLTs (66% human leukocyte antigen [HLA] positive). The proportions for narcolepsy with and without cataplexy were 0.07% (95% CI: 0.02-0.37%) and 0.20% (95% CI: 0.07-0.58%), respectively. Conclusions: The diagnostic value of multiple sleep latency tests is strongly altered by shift work and to a lesser extent by chronic sleep deprivation. The prevalence of narcolepsy without cataplexy may be 3-fold higher than that of narcolepsy-cataplexy.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1043-1051
    Number of pages9
    Issue number6
    StatePublished - 1 Jun 2014


    • Cataplexy
    • HLA
    • MSLT
    • Narcolepsy
    • Polysomnography
    • REM sleep

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Clinical Neurology
    • Physiology (medical)


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