Periodic limb movements during sleep: a narrative review

Drakatos, Panagis, Olaithe, Michelle, Verma, Dhun, Ilic, Katarina, Cash, Diana, Fatima, Yaqoot, Higgins, Sean, Young, Allan H., Chaudhuri, K. Ray, Steier, Joerg, Skinner, Timothy, Bucks, Romola, and Rosenzweig, Ivana (2021) Periodic limb movements during sleep: a narrative review. Journal of Thoracic Disease, 13 (11). pp. 6476-6494.

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Objective: Using narrative review techniques, this paper evaluates the evidence for separable underlying patho-mechanisms of periodic limb movements (PLMs) to separable PLM motor patterns and phenotypes, in order to elucidate potential new treatment modalities.

Background: Periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD) is estimated to occur in 5–8% of the paediatric population and 4–11% of the general adult population. Due to significant sleep fragmentation, PLMD can lead to functional impairment, including hyperactivity and delayed language development in children, and poor concentration and work performance in adults. Longitudinal data demonstrate that those with PLMD are at greater risk of depression and anxiety, and a 4-fold greater risk of developing dementia. PLMD has been extensively studied over the past two decades, and several key insights into the genetic, pathophysiological, and neural correlates have been proposed. Amongst these proposals is the concept of separable PLM phenotypes, proposed on the basis of nocturnal features such as the ratio of limb movements and distribution throughout the night. PLM phenotype and presentation, however, varies significantly depending on the scoring utilized and the nocturnal features examined, across age, and co-morbid clinical conditions. Furthermore, associations between these phenotypes with major neurologic and psychiatric disorders remain controversial.

Methods: In order to elucidate potential divergent biological pathways that may help clarify important new treatment modalities, this paper utilizes narrative review and evaluates the evidence linking PLM motor patterns and phenotypes with hypothesised underlying patho-mechanisms. Distinctive, underlying patho-mechanisms include: a pure motor mechanism originating in the spinal cord, iron deficiency, dopamine system dysfunction, thalamic glutamatergic hyperactivity, and a more cortical-subcortical interplay. In support of the latter hypothesis, PLM rhythmicity appears tightly linked to the microarchitecture of sleep, not dissimilarly to the apnoeic/hypopneic events seen in obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Conclusions: This review closes with a proposal for greater investigation into the identification of potential, divergent biological pathways. To do so would require prospective, multimodal imaging clinical studies which may delineate differential responses to treatment in restless legs syndrome (RLS) without PLMS and PLMS without RLS. This could pave the way toward important new treatment modalities.

Item ID: 72266
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2077-6624
Keywords: Periodic limb movements (PLMs), sleep, periodic limb movement phenotype (PLM phenotype)
Copyright Information: © Journal of Thoracic Disease. All rights reserved.
Date Deposited: 09 Feb 2022 12:25
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