Increased plasma orexin-A levels in patients with insomnia disorder are not associated with prepro-orexin or orexin receptor gene polymorphisms

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Abstract

Orexins, also known as hypocretins, play a regulatory role in the sleep-wake cycle by activating orexin receptors. Previous animal studies have shown that sleep deprivation can elevate orexinergic peptide levels. However, the relationship between insomnia disorder and orexin-A levels in humans has not been explored. In the current study, we examined plasma orexin-A levels in patients with insomnia disorder and in normal sleepers. We also studied the possible mechanisms underlying changes in orexin-A levels between the study groups; this included investigations of prepro-orexin and orexin receptor gene polymorphisms as well as exploration of other variables. We measured plasma orexin-A levels in 228 patients with insomnia disorder and 282 normal sleepers. The results indicated that the patients with insomnia disorder had significantly higher orexin-A levels than normal sleepers (63.42 ± 37.56 vs. 54.84 ± 23.95 pg/ml). A positive relationship was detected between orexin-A level and age in patients with insomnia disorder. Orexin-A levels were elevated in relation to course of insomnia, as well as in relation to increased Insomnia Severity Index score. None of the evaluated prepro-orexin gene single nucleotide polymorphisms were informative between the two study populations. After sequencing all orexin receptor exons, one variation (rs2271933) in the OX1R gene and one variation (rs2653349) in the OX2R gene were found. However, no significant differences were found in either genotypic or allelic frequency distributions between the two study groups. It is suggested that the increased plasma orexin-A levels in patients with insomnia disorder are associated with the course and severity of insomnia, but not with prepro-orexin and orexin receptor gene polymorphisms.

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