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J Sleep Res. 2005 Mar;14(1):43-7.

CSF iron, ferritin and transferrin levels in restless legs syndrome.

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Department of Psychiatry, Shimane University School of Medicine, Shimane, Japan.


The aim of this study is evaluating iron, ferritin, and transferrin in both serum and CSF in patients of restless legs syndrome (RLS), based on the hypothesis that iron deficiency in the central nervous system (CNS) causes the symptoms as a result of the dysfunction of dopaminergic systems. These parameters, polysomnographic sleep measures, and subjective evaluation of the sleep quality were compared in 10 patients of idiopathic RLS (RLS group) and 10 age-matched patients of psychophysiological insomnia without RLS symptoms (non-RLS group). With sleep patterns, sleep latency was longer and sleep efficiency was lower in the RLS group than those in the non-RLS group. Periodic leg movement index in the RLS group was higher than that of the non-RLS group. With serum examination, there were no significant differences for the iron, ferritin, and transferrin values between the both groups. With CSF examination, the iron and ferritin values were lower and the transferrin values were higher in the RLS group than those in the non-RLS group. There was positive correlation between the serum and CSF ferritin levels in the both groups, but the slope of the regression lines for the RLS group was lower than that for the non-RLS group. These results indicate low brain iron concentration caused by the dysfunction of iron transportation from serum to CNS in patients with idiopathic RLS.

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