Journal of Neurology

, 254:1401 | Cite as

Comorbidity of restless legs syndrome and HIV infection

  • S. Happe
  • L. Kundmüller
  • D. Reichelt
  • I.-W. Husstedt
  • S. Evers



The lifetime prevalence of restless legs syndrome (RLS) is about 10 % in the general population. The association of RLS with HIV infection is unknown. We aimed to investigate the prevalence of RLS in HIV positive patients and to define predictors.


A standardized questionnaire was presented to 228 HIV infected patients of the HIV outpatient clinic at the Department of Neurology,University of Münster, Germany. 129 patients (57% recall; 15% female, 44 ± 9 years; mean CD4+ cell count 333 ± 274/μl, 82% under highly active antiretroviral treatment) were included in the statistical analysis. 100 age- and sex-matched controls (20 % female, 42 ± 13 years) were recruited from waiting relatives of surgical patients. Beside demographic and disease-specific data, the questionnaire included the diagnostic questions for RLS and the RLS severity scale by the International RLS Study Group. Diagnosis of RLS was confirmed by experienced neurologists.


33.3% of the HIV infected patients and 7% of the controls (p <0.001) fulfilled the diagnostic criteria for RLS. The mean RLS severity score was higher in HIV infected patients (19.5 ± 7.2) than in controls (7.3 ± 1.5; p <0.001) and correlated inversely with the CD4+ cell count (r = -.381; p = 0.024) and the BMI (r = -.548; p <0.001) but not with other disease-specific factors.


HIV infected patients show a significantly higher prevalence rate for RLS than the general population. The HIV infection itself with its immunological changes and involvement of the central nervous system may predispose for a risk of RLS in HIV infected patients.

Key words

restless legs syndrome RLS HIV CD4+ cell count 


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Copyright information

© Steinkopff-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Happe
    • 1
  • L. Kundmüller
    • 2
  • D. Reichelt
    • 3
  • I.-W. Husstedt
    • 2
  • S. Evers
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.Dept. of Clinical NeurophysiologyKlinikum Bremen-Ost/University of GöttingenGermany
  2. 2.Dept. of NeurologyUniversity of MünsterGermany
  3. 3.Dept. of Internal Medicine DUniversity of MünsterGermany
  4. 4.Professor of Neurology, Dept. of NeurologyUniversity of MünsterMünsterGermany

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