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Cataplexy During Status Cataplecticus Resembles REM Sleep

Cataplexy is a sudden temporary loss of muscle tone in the body, which occurs during times of intense emotional states like laughter or anger. Cataplexy is one of the symptoms of// narcolepsy, which is a compulsive disorder to fall asleep.

In narcolepsy there are compulsive sleep attacks and the person has an irresistible urge to sleep even in the most unlikely circumstances like driving.

A study has led to the discovery that cataplexy during status cataplecticus partially resembles normal rapid eye movement (REM) sleep but without the other imaging characteristics of this state.

The first efforts to identify the neural structures and pathways underlying cataplexy during status cataplecticus in a narcoleptic patient, with the use of brain perfusion single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), have led to the discovery that cataplexy during status cataplecticus, a case of prolonged cataplexy, partially resembles normal rapid eye movement (REM) sleep but without the other imaging characteristics of this state, according to a study published in the February 1st issue of the journal SLEEP.

The study, conducted by Dorothée Chabas, MD, PhD, of Université Pierre et Marie Curie-Paris, and Assistance Publique H?pitaux de Paris, focused on a 68-year-old woman with hypocretin-deficient narcolepsy-cataplexy, who suffered status cataplecticus after having stopped clomipramine. The woman underwent a 99mTc-ethylcysteinate dimmer brain SPECT during an episode of cataplexy. This image was compared with her brain SPECT during an intervening asymptomatic period. Subtraction SPECT coregistered to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-determined anatomic areas differentially perfused during cataplexy and basal wakefulness state.

According to the results, the areas hyperactivated during cataplexy correspond on brain MRI with the cingular area, the left and right orbitofrontal cortex, the right temporal cortex and the right put
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