The hypocretin system and psychiatric disorders

Fabio Pizza, Michele Magnani, Camilla Indrio, Giuseppe Plazzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The hypocretin system is constituted by a small group of hypothalamic neurons with widespread connections within the entire central nervous system producing two neuropeptides involved in several key physiological functions such as the regulation of sleep and wakefulness, motor control, autonomic functions, metabolism, feeding behavior, and reward. Narcolepsy with cataplexy is a neurological disorder regarded as a disease model for the selective hypocretin system damage, and also shares several psychopatological traits and comorbidities with psychiatric disorders.We reviewed the available literature on the involvement of the hypocretin system in psychiatric nosography. Different evidences such as cerebrospinal hypocretin-1 levels, genetic polymorphisms of the neuropeptides or their receptors, response to treatments, clinical, experimental and functional data directly or indirectly linked the hypocretin system to schizophrenia, mood, anxiety and eating disorders, as well as to addiction. Future genetic and pharmacological studies will disentangle the hypocretin system role in the field of psychiatry.

Original languageEnglish
Article number433
JournalCurrent Psychiatry Reports
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014


  • Abuse
  • Addiction
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Dopamine
  • Eating disorders
  • Feeding
  • Hallucinations
  • Hypocretin
  • Hypothalamus
  • Major depression
  • Mood disorders
  • Narcolepsy with cataplexy
  • Orexin
  • Reward
  • Schizophrenia
  • Sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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