Multidrug resistant narcolepsy
Introduction. Narcolepsy type 1 is a focal degenerative disease of the hypothalamus that selectively affects orexin (hypocretin)-producing neurons. It presents multiple clinical manifestations, both in wakefulness and in sleep. The symptoms are often so disruptive that they cause enormous suffering and impair patients’ quality of life. Although a non-pharmacological approach is sometimes sufficient, the vast majority of patients need medication for adequate clinical management.
Case report. A male who, at 43 years of age, began to present acutely with excessive daytime sleepiness and episodes of cataplexy. After a thorough examination, he was diagnosed with narcolepsy type 1. Throughout the course of the disease, he was prescribed antidepressants, neurostimulants and sodium oxybate, in monotherapy or in combination. The response to pharmacological treatment was insufficient and accompanied by numerous side effects. Following the introduction of pitolisant, there was a marked improvement in his symptoms and a reduction in the dose of the other drugs and their adverse effects was achieved.
Conclusion. A number of measures are now available to address the cardinal symptoms of the disease, although there are still cases that are resistant to anti-narcoleptic treatment. Drugs with mechanisms of action that act upon receptors in the histaminergic system can be very useful in these cases.
Key words. Cataplexy. Excessive daytime sleepiness. Narcolepsy. Orexin. Pharmacoresistance. Pitolisant.