Pathophysiological concepts of restless legs syndrome



Pathophysiological concepts of restless legs syndrome (RLS) are based mainly on neuroimaging and on neurophysiological data. Furthermore treatment effects contribute essentially to the present understanding of the disease, unless the genetic progress expected in the near future will clarify substantially open issues. The concept agreed on assumes a dysfunction of the dopaminergic system, possibly on the level of striatal and/or spinal dopamine receptors, and the A11 neuron group localized in the hypothalamus as an integrated part of the system. These neurons modulate spinal excitability, alterations of which in turn affect sensory processing predominantly of leg afferents in brain stem structures. Neurophysiologically excitability alterations can be measured by a variety of methods such as determination of pain thresholds, H-reflex testing, and quantitative sensory testing. © 2007 Movement Disorder Society