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Long-term dopamine agonist treatment fails to restore altered central sensory processing in restless legs syndrome: Evidence from current perception threshold measurements.

Sleep Medicine 2023 November 11
OBJECTIVES: Although some studies have examined the impact of short-term dopamine agonist treatment on altered central sensory processing in patients with restless legs syndrome (RLS), there is a scarcity of research investigating the effect of long-term treatment with these drugs. The aim of this study is to investigate the long-term impact of dopamine agonist treatment on altered central sensory processing in RLS patients using current perception threshold (CPT) testing.

METHODS: We conducted a study of 24 RLS patients, measuring their CPT values before and after dopamine agonist treatment for at least 2 months. Patients were classified as responders or non-responders based on their decrease in International Restless Legs Syndrome (IRLS) score. Clinical parameters were collected and compared pre- and post-treatment.

RESULTS: The mean duration of treatment with dopamine agonist was 13.6 ± 11.0 months. Our results showed that dopamine agonist treatment significantly improved clinical parameters, including the IRLS score, Visual Analogue Scale, and RLS Quality of Life questionnaire. However, CPT values did not show significant changes for all stimulus frequencies after treatment. Furthermore, we did not find any difference in CPT values before and after treatment in both responders and non-responders.

CONCLUSIONS: Our study demonstrated that long-term treatment with dopamine agonists effectively reduces RLS symptoms, but does not reverse the altered central sensory processing observed on CPT testing in RLS patients. These results support the notion that the pathophysiology of RLS is multifactorial and not solely driven by dopaminergic dysfunction.

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