Neuropathology of primary restless leg syndrome: Absence of specific τ- and α-synuclein pathology

Sean J. Pittock, Timothy Parrett, Charles H. Adler, Joseph E. Parisi, Dennis W. Dickson, J. Eric Ahlskog

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


The neuroanatomical substrate for restless legs syndrome (RLS) is unknown. We identified 4 patients with idiopathic RLS who came to post-mortem examination, where brain and spinal cord tissue were available for neuropathological assessment. Lewy bodies were not identified and α-synuclein immunohistochemistry was uniformly negative. Neurofibrillary tangle pathology was variable and nonspecific. These findings suggest that τ- or α-synuclein brain pathology is not a component of primary RLS. Although chronic ischemic changes were found in all 4 cases, these were probably incidental. The absence of diagnostic microscopic brain or spinal cord pathology suggests that the pathologic substrate may be neurochemical or receptor based.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)695-699
Number of pages5
JournalMovement Disorders
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2004


  • Neuropathology
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • α-synuclein
  • τ-synuclein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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