Involvement of central sensory pathways in subjects with restless legs syndrome: A neurophysiological study

Raffaele Nardone, Luca Sebastianelli, Viviana Versace, Andrea Orioli, Leopold Saltuari, Eugen Trinka, Yvonne Höller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In patients with restless legs syndrome (RLS) a motor cortical disinhibition has been reported in transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) studies, but the neuronal excitability in other cortical areas has been poorly explored. The aim of this study was the functional evaluation of thalamo-cortical circuits and inhibitory cortical responses in the sensory cortex in RLS.

We assessed the high-frequency somatosensory evoked potentials (HF-SEP) in sixteen subjects suffering from RLS of different degrees of severity.

In patients with severe or very severe RLS we found a significant desynchronization with amplitude reduction of both pre- and post-synaptic HF-SEP bursts, which suggest an impairment in the thalamo-cortical projections and in the cortical inhibitory interneurons activity, respectively.

The assessment of the central sensory pathways by means of HF-SEP may shed light on the pathophysiological mechanisms of RLS.
Original languageEnglish
Article number147673
JournalBrain Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021

Other keywords

  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Somatosensory evoked potentials
  • High-frequency oscillations
  • Sensory cortex
  • Thalamo-cortical projections

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