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J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2010 Apr;117(4):463-73. doi: 10.1007/s00702-009-0361-3. Epub 2010 Jan 5.

Comparative placebo-controlled polysomnographic and psychometric studies on the acute effects of gabapentin versus ropinirole in restless legs syndrome.

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Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Medical University of Vienna, Währinger Gürtel 18-20, 1090 Vienna, Austria.


The aim of the present placebo-controlled sleep laboratory study was to compare the acute effects of gabapentin (GBT) and ropinirole (ROP) in restless legs syndrome (RLS). In a parallel-group design, 40 RLS patients received 300 mg GBT and another 40 patients 0.5 mg ROP as compared with placebo. Polysomnographic and psychometric measures were obtained in three sleep laboratory nights (screening/placebo/drug). Statistics included a Wilcoxon test for differences between drug and placebo and a U test for inter-group differences. Sleep efficiency and latency were found significantly improved after GBT, while they remained unchanged after ROP, with significant inter-drug differences. Sleep architecture showed oppositional changes after the two drugs: While GBT decreased S1, increased slow-wave sleep and SREM and shortened REM latency, ROP increased S2, decreased slow-wave sleep and SREM and increased REM latency. Periodic leg movements (PLM) showed a significantly greater decrease after ROP (-73%) than after GBT (-35%). Subjective sleep quality improved significantly only after GBT; mental performance improved after both drugs with no inter-drug differences. In conclusion, the dopamine agonist ROP showed acute therapeutic efficacy with regard to PLM measures only, whereas GBT had a less pronounced effect on these measures, but improved objective and subjective sleep and awakening quality as compared with both placebo and ROP. Differential acute drug effects may serve as prognostic indicators of therapeutic response of individual patients.

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