Chapter

What causes restless legs syndrome?

Luigi Ferini-Strambi

in Restless Legs Syndrome

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

ISBN: 9780199234882
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199607105 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/med/9780199234882.003.0002

Series: Oxford Neurology Library

What causes restless legs syndrome?

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• The pathophysiology of RLS is complex and remains to be fully elucidated. RLS is predominantly a disorder of the central nervous system and a dopaminergic dysfunction in subcortical systems seems to play a fundamental role. • A central dopamine hypothesis to RLS mainly derives from the rapid and dramatic improvement of RLS with dopaminergic agents. The hypofunctioning of the A11 dopaminergic diencephalospinal pathways seems to be implicated in the RLS pathophysiology. • Disturbed iron homeostasis may also play a crucial role. Most RLS patients have normal serum ferritin levels, but reduced concentrations of ferritin and transferrin in their cerebrospinal fluid. • Genetic mechanisms are also involved in the RLS pathophysiology, particularly when the condition develops before the age of 45. Seven candidate genetic loci have been known to date, but the genes involved have yet to be identified.

Chapter.  4349 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Neurology

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