Until now it was thought to be a result of genetic, metabolic and central nervous system mechanisms but a new paper finds it is not only the central nervous system but also the nerve cells targeting the muscles themselves that are responsible. The new research indicates that the involuntary leg movements in restless legs syndrome are caused by increased excitability of the nerve cells that supply the muscles in the leg, which results in an increased number of signals being sent between nerve cells.
Targeting the way messages are sent between nerve cells to reduce the number of messages to normal levels may help prevent the symptoms of RLS occurring. This could be achieved by new drugs that block the ion channels that are essential for the communication between nerve cells.
The research involved measuring the nerve excitability of motor nerve cells of patients suffering with RLS and healthy subjects. The next step is to investigate the effect of different medications in patients and the effect on RLS.
Citation: Dirk Czesnik, James Howells, Michael Bartl, Elisabeth Veiz, Rebecca Ketzler, Olga Kemmet, Arthur S. Walters, Claudia Trenkwalder, David Burke, Walter Paulus, Ih contributes to increased motoneuron excitability in restless legs syndrome, The Journal of Physiology Volume597, Issue2
15 January 2019 Pages 599-609 https://doi.org/10.1113/JP275341