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Author Notes:

Corresponding Author: Donald L. Bliwise, Ph.D., Department of Neurology, Emory University School of Medicine, Sleep Program, Wesley Woods Center, 1841 Clifton Road, Atlanta, Georgia 30329, USA, 1-404-728-4751 (phone), 1-404-728-4756 (FAX), dbliwis@emory.edu


Research Funding:

This work was supported by National Institutes of Health grants NS-050595 and NS-35345 to DLB


  • Parkinsonism
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Periodic Leg Movements in Sleep
  • Restless Legs Syndrome
  • Willis-Ekbom Disease

Periodic Leg Movements in Sleep in Elderly Patients with Parkinsonism and Alzheimer's Disease


Journal Title:

European Journal of Neurology


Volume 19, Number 6


, Pages 918-923

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review


Background Periodic Leg Movements in Sleep (PLMS) are non-epileptiform, repetitive movements of the lower limbs that have been associated with apparent dopamine deficiency. We hypothesized that elderly patients with a disease characterized primarily by dopamine depletion (Parkinsonism) would have higher rates of PLMS than aged matched controls or a different neurodegenerative condition not primarily involving a hypodopaminergic state, Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). Methods We compared rates of PLMS derived from in-lab overnight polysomnography in patients with Parkinsonism (n = 79), AD (n = 28), and non-neurologically impaired, community-based controls (n = 187). Results Parkinsonian patients not receiving levo-dopa had significantly higher rates of PLMS than did Parkinsonian patients receiving levo-dopa, as well as higher rates than seen in AD and controls. Other medications did not appear to exert the pronounced effect of levo-dopa on PLMS in this Parkinsonian patient population. The symptom of leg kicking was reported more frequently in Parkinsonism, and it was associated with higher rates of PLMS. Caregiver reported leg kicking was unrelated to PLMS in AD. Conclusions Results are broadly compatible with a dopaminergic hypothesis for PLMS in Parkinsonism. The clinical significance of the negative findings in AD patient requires further investigation.

Copyright information:

© 2012 The Author(s). European Journal of Neurology © 2012 EFNS

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