Noctural myoclonus syndrome (periodic movements in sleep) related to central dopamine D2-receptor alteration

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The nocturnal myoclonus syndrome (NMS) consists of stereotyped, repetitive jerks of the lower limbs that occur during sleep or wakefulness. NMS is often related with restless-legs syndrome (RLS) and can cause severe sleep disturbances and daytime sleepiness. The efficacy of dopamine agonists in the treatment points to a dopaminergic dysfunction in NMS. We investigated the central dopamine D2-receptor occupancy with [123I] labeled (S)-2-hydroxy-3-iodo-6-methoxy-([1-ethyl-2-pyrrolidinyl]methyl) benzamide (IBZM) (a highly selective CNS D2 dopamine receptor ligand) ([123I]IBZM) and single photon emission tomography (SPET) in 20 patients with NMS and in 10 healthy controls. In most of the patients with NMS there was a lower [123I]IBZM binding in the striatal structures compared to controls. The results indicate that NMS is related to a decrease of central D2-receptor occupancy.