Study Suggests Cause for Restless Leg Syndrome- article

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by COOKIEMONSTER, Jun 23, 2003.



    Study Suggests Cause For Restless Legs Syndrome

    Possible physical cause for RLS established
    It's an unusual syndrome and until now it has been considered inexplicable. Though it may affect between 5 and 10 percent of the U.S. population, it is underdiagnosed. It's called Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) and the main symptom is an irresistible urge to move the legs, often accompanied by "creepy-crawly" sensations in the legs.

    Only movement of the legs relieves the sensations. For the millions who suffer with Restless Leg Syndrome, the syndrome worsens at night after the sun sets, resulting in a pattern of sleeplessness.

    A research team from Penn State College of Medicine and Johns Hopkins University searched for answers regarding RLS. Led by James Connor, Ph.D., professor and interim chair, Department of Neuoscience and Anatomy, Penn State College of Medicine, the team performed the first-ever autopsy analysis of th brains of people with RLS. Their research which was presented at the Association of Professional Sleep Societies meeting in Chicago on June 5, 2003, revealed a possible explanation for RLS.

    Their findings:

    Though there is no unique pathological changes in the brains of patients with RLS, it seems that cells in a portion of the mid-brain are not getting enough iron.
    There was no evidence of neurodegeneration, lost or damaged brain cells, as is seen in Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease.
    The discovery of a physical cause for RLS indicates that the problem is sensory motor rather than psychological.
    Since cells are not lost or damaged, but are iron-deficient, there is hope for the development of treatments.

    The study:

    Connor studied the brain tissue obtained from the Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation's brain collection at the Harvard Brain Bank.
    Tissue from 7 people with RLS was examined. 5 samples from people with no neurological conditions served as controls.
    Cross-sectional slides of the substantia nigra, the portion of the middle brain throught to be associated with RLS allowed the research team to examine cell structure and function.


    Connor's study found that a specific receptor for iron transport is lacking in patients with RLS. Enough iron gets into brain cells to keep them alive, but not enough to allow them to function optimally. It was suggested that the missing iron may cause a misfiring of neural signals to the legs causing the creepy-crawly sensation.
    These conclusions do not suggest that a person has a dietary iron-deficiency and requires supplements. It does suggest that the receptors are not packaging and delivering an adequate amount of iron to the specific cells in the specified middle brain portion.
    Some patients have found temporary relief by taking iron supplements, but it is vitally important that any supplement therapy be managed by a physician.
    Connor hopes to continue to detect other breakdowns in the iron packagin and transport system to this part of the brain, as well as focusing on the genes that regulate the iron transport proteins.
    The hope is these discoveries will eventually result in a test that could diagnose RLS and lead to treatments which would offer long-term relief to RLS sufferers.
    This study was funded in part by grants from the NIH and RLS Foundation.


    Cause for Restless Legs Syndrome, NEWSWISE, June 6, 2003

  2. Shirl

    Shirl New Member

    Article, I did have RLS, but mine has stopped completely since taking magnesium!

    I had this so bad, that it would wake me up at night. But I have not had a problem with it for almost a year now.

    I do not take an iron supplement, it will cause stomach problems for me, but it is something to think about and worth a try for those who do have RLS, and are able to digest the iron.

    Thanks Hon, that was an interesting, and not too long article I did not have to print it out to read!

    Shalom, Shirl
  3. coyote

    coyote New Member

    I had RLS also, but it stopped when I started taking estrogen for HRT
  4. Achy-shaky

    Achy-shaky New Member

    No wonder iron supplements didn't help my RLS...this sure explains it! I have severe RLS, not just the creepy crawlies but horrible deep leg pain that kept me up for hours & caused me to kick up a storm while sleeping. After trying all kinds of things that didn't work the only relief I got was taking Mirapex. Magnesium does help the creepy-crawling feeling but not the pain for me.
    It will be wonderful if they find a way to get the iron absorbed better.

    Thanks for posting this.
  5. zggygirl

    zggygirl New Member

    It's nice to know that there is research and hope for people with RLS.
    I think Klonipin or Calcium has helped me with it. It was very bad for awhile. And a lot worse when taking SSRI's or even Elevil which I think is supposed to help it!
    Thanks for the post,