Restless Legs Syndrome Study Identifies 13 New Genetic Risk Variants


Source: University of Cambridge

Summary: A new study has identified 13 unknown genetic risk variants related to a sleep disorder, restless legs syndrome.


Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is chronic neurological sleep disorder with severe mental and physical health consequences. RLS sufferers feel an unpleasant and uncontrollable urge to move legs. Physical inactivity and rest can instigate the symptoms but movement can give some temporary relief. People with RLS suffer from disturbed sleep, hypertension, anxiety, depression, cardiovascular diseases and reduced overall quality of life. The incidence of RLS is observed one in ten in European ancestry. The study was done by an international team of researchers and the results were published in the journal The Lancet Neurology.

Chronic Neurological Sleep Disorder

Researchers have collected and compared genetic data of over 15000 patients with more than 95000 controls and finally identified 13 genetic variants. The genetic variants were previously linked to the neurogenesis and changes in the formation of neural circuits. These findings strengthen that RLS, whose origins go back to development in the womb and also impaired never cell growth later in the life. These findings may offer new a potential treatment options for the RLS patients as the current drugs have serious side effects.

Dr. Barbara Schormair, said, “We have studied the genetics of restless legs syndrome for more than 10 years and the current study is the largest conducted so far, We are convinced that the newly discovered risk loci will contribute substantially to our understanding of the causal biology of the disease.”

Dr. Emanuele Di Angelantonio, said, “The genetic risk variants that we’ve discovered add more weight to the idea that this condition is related to the development of our nervous system, “It also gives us some clues to how we may treat patients affected by the condition.”


More Information: Barbara Schormair et al, “Identification of novel risk loci for restless legs syndrome in genome-wide association studies in individuals of European ancestry: a meta-analysis”, The Lancet Neurology (2017). DOI: 10.1016/S1474-4422(17)30327-7


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