Restless legs syndrome and Parkinson disease: A causal relationship between the two disorders?

L Ferini-Strambi, G Carli, F Casoni, Andrea Galbiati

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Restless Legs Syndrome/Willis-Ekbom Disease (RLS/WED) is a common sleep related movement disorder that can be idiopathic or occurs in comorbidity with other medical conditions such as polyneuropathy, iron deficiency anemia, multiple sclerosis, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases. In recent years, a growing body of literature investigated the association between RLS/WED and Parkinson's Disease (PD). Several questions regarding the comorbidity between these two disorders are still unanswered. If the insurgence of RLS/WED may precede the onset of PD, or if RLS/WED could represent a secondary condition of PD and if impaired dopaminergic pathway may represent a bridge between these two conditions are still debatable issues. In this review, we critically discuss the relationship between RLS/WED and PD by reviewing cross sectional and longitudinal studies, as well as the role of dopamine in these disorders. A twofold interpretation have to be taken into account: dopaminergic therapy may have a crucial role in the development of RLS/WED in PD patients or RLS/WED can be conceived as an early manifestation of PD rather than a risk factor. Several studies showed a high prevalence of RLS/WED in PD patients and several findings related to dopaminergic and iron alterations in both disorders, however up to now it is difficult to find a point of agreement between studies. A greater number of systematic and strongly controlled longitudinal studies as well as basic pathophysiological investigations particularly in RLS/WED are needed to clarify this complex relationship. © 2018 Ferini-Strambi, Carli, Casoni and Galbiati.
Original languageEnglish
Article number551
JournalFrontiers in Neurology
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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