Brain iron deficiency in idiopathic restless legs syndrome measured by quantitative magnetic susceptibility at 7 tesla.

Mark McIntosh,'s picture
PubMed URL:
van Zijl PC
Author List: 
Li X
Allen RP
Earley CJ
Liu H
Cruz TE
Edden RA
Barker PB
van Zijl PC
Sleep Med
PubMed ID: 
Altered brain iron homeostasis with regional iron deficiency has been previously reported in several studies of restless legs syndrome (RLS) patients. Inconsistencies still exist, however, in the reported iron changes in different brain regions and different RLS phenotypes. The purpose of this study was to assess differences in brain iron concentrations between RLS patients and healthy controls and their relation to severity of disease and periodic limb movement during sleep (PLMS).Assessment of brain iron was done using quantitative magnetic susceptibility measurement, which has been shown to correlate well with the tissue iron content in brain's gray matter. Thirty-nine RLS patients and 29 age-matched healthy controls were scanned at 7 T. Magnetic susceptibilities in substantia nigra (SN), thalamus, striatum, and several iron-rich gray matter regions were quantified and compared with related clinical measures.Compared with healthy controls, RLS patients showed significantly decreased magnetic susceptibility in the thalamus and dentate nucleus. No significant difference was found in the SN between RLS patients and healthy controls, but a significant correlation was observed between magnetic susceptibility in SN and the PLMS measure.Using quantitative magnetic susceptibility as an in vivo indicator of brain iron content, the present study supports the general hypothesis of brain iron deficiency in RLS and indicates its possible link to PLMS.
Published Date: 
June, 2016

Bradley L. Schlaggar, M.D., Ph.D., Named President and CEO of Kennedy Krieger Institute

We’re thrilled to welcome Bradley L. Schlaggar, M.D., Ph.D., to the Kennedy Krieger family as our next President and CEO.

Learn more.

Appointments & Referrals



Read inspiring stories, news and updates about the Institute's patient care, research, special education, professional training, and community programs.


Resource Finder


A free resource that provides access to information and support for individuals and families living with developmental disabilities.