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Journal of Neurology

, Volume 264, Issue 8, pp 1634–1641 | Cite as

Iron, dopamine, genetics, and hormones in the pathophysiology of restless legs syndrome

  • Farhan H. Khan
  • Caitlyn D. Ahlberg
  • Christopher A. Chow
  • Divya R. Shah
  • Brian B. KooEmail author
Review

Abstract

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a common, chronic neurologic condition, which causes a persistent urge to move the legs in the evening that interferes with sleep. Human and animal studies have been used to study the pathophysiologic state of RLS and much has been learned about the iron and dopamine systems in relation to RLS. Human neuropathologic and imaging studies have consistently shown decreased iron in different brain regions including substantia nigra and thalamus. These same areas also demonstrate a state of relative dopamine excess. While it is not known how these changes in dopamine or iron produce the symptoms of RLS, genetic and hormone studies of RLS have identified other biologic systems or genes, such as the endogenous opioid and melanocortin systems and BTBD9 and MEIS1, that may explain some of the iron or dopamine changes in relation to RLS. This manuscript will review what is known about the pathophysiology of RLS, especially as it relates to changes in iron, dopamine, genetics, and hormonal systems.

Keywords

Restless legs syndrome Pathophysiology Dopamine Iron Genetics 

Notes

Funding

This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest to report.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Farhan H. Khan
    • 1
  • Caitlyn D. Ahlberg
    • 2
  • Christopher A. Chow
    • 1
  • Divya R. Shah
    • 1
  • Brian B. Koo
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Lippard Laboratory of Clinical Investigation, Division of Movement Disorders, Department of NeurologyYale University School of MedicineWest HavenUSA
  2. 2.Case Western Reserve University School of MedicineClevelandUSA
  3. 3.Connecticut Veterans Affairs Medical CenterWest HavenUSA

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