Restless legs syndrome (RLS), according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, is a sleep related movement disorder that involves an irresistible urge to move the legs at night. It affects five percent to 10 percent of adults; in children the percentage is unknown.
A new study, published in PLoS Genetics, shows that RLS may be genetic. In the study, 922 people with the genes that are linked to RLS were compared to 1,526 healthy people. Seventy-six potential gene candidates were found. The genes were then replicated in 3,935 people with RLS and 5,754 healthy people. By doing this the results were narrowed down to six genetic regions that are connected with an increased risk of RLS. There were four mutations. Two have already been reported on; however, two of them are new.
TOX3, one of the newly identified regions, is used by the brain to regulate activity. Earlier studies have shown that TOX3 protein protects brain cells from cell death. However, the connection between TOX3 and RLS is not clear.
Juliane Winklemann, a researcher at the Institute of Human Genetics in Munich, Germany, says that the findings of the study will help with creating new treatments for RLS. It will also provide more insight into the cause RLS.
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