The cause of restless legs syndrome (RLS) is unknown, but an involvement of the dopaminergic system and a possible relation to Parkinson's disease (PD) is suggested by the positive response to dopaminergic treatment. We imaged the striatal dopamine transporter with [(123)I] N-(3-iodopropen-2-yl)-2beta-carbomethoxy-3beta-(chloro-phenyl) tropane ([(123)I]IPT) and single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) in 28 RLS patients, and compared the results with transporter binding in 29 patients with early PD and 23 age-matched controls. No difference in IPT binding was found between RLS patients and controls. IPT binding was correlated significantly with age in RLS patients and controls, whereas there was no relation with the duration of symptoms or severity of RLS. PD patients presented significant lower presynaptic IPT binding ipsi- and contralateral to the affected body side compared with RLS patients or controls. We found no common characteristics between RLS patients and patients with early PD detectable by dopamine transporter SPECT. Our results do not strengthen an identical pathophysiologic pathway between RLS and PD on the level of nigrostriatal presynaptic terminal function.
(c) 2004 Movement Disorder Society.