More threads by David Baxter PhD

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Restless Legs Syndrome Linked to Low Brain Iron Levels

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Jul 06 - French researchers have identified two patients with hemochromatosis and restless legs syndrome who also had low brain iron levels.

Hemochromatosis is a disease of iron metabolism in which increased intestinal absorption of iron leads to iron deposition in organs, Dr. Jose Haba-Rubio and colleagues point out in the July issue of the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry. Paradoxically, restless legs syndrome and periodic limb movements in sleep are associated with low brain iron levels.

Their first case was of a 40-year-old woman with symptoms of restless legs syndrome and periodic limb movements in sleep. Blood work showed she had increased levels of serum ferritin and serum transferrin saturation, and the authors found she carried a C282Y mutation in the HFE gene, which is associated with hemochromatosis.

The second case was of a 56-year-old man previously diagnosed with hemochromatosis. Three years later he presented with symptoms of restless legs syndrome and periodic limb movements in sleep.

Both patients underwent MRI, and results were compared with those of nine healthy volunteers. Results showed iron deficits in the substantia nigra, red nucleus and pallidum in both patients.

"These findings reveal that local brain iron deficiency may occur in patients with hemochromatosis, as if the blood-brain barrier is able to restrict the transport of the excess plasma iron to the brain," Dr. Haba-Rubio, from the Institute for Research in Neurosciences and Neuropsychiatry in Rouffach, France, and his associates comment.

They also suggest that it is low regional brain iron levels and alterations in the blood brain barrier iron transport mechanism, rather than low serum iron levels, that are responsible for restless legs syndrome.

J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 2005;76:1009-1010.

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Restless Legs Syndrome


That's a fascinating study, Dr. Baxter. This malady is really very destructive, as it limits the amount of sleep the sufferer is able to get, and makes their lives really difficult. I do hope these discoveries will lead to some level of help for those who have to deal with this issue.


has any study shown how to rectify this problem?? since the above was posted?

i'd be very interested in any updated articles on this.
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