Motor restlessness, sleep disturbances, thermal sensory alterations and elevated serum iron levels in BTBD9 mutant mice

Academic Article


  • Restless legs syndrome (RLS), also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, is a sensory-motor neurological disorder with a circadian component. RLS is characterized by uncomfortable sensations in the extremities, generally at night or during sleep, which often leads to an uncontrollable urge to move them for relief. Recently, genomic studies identified single-nucleotide polymorphisms in BTBD9, along with three other genes, as being associated with a higher risk of RLS. Little is known about the function of BTBD9 or its potential role in the pathophysiology of RLS. We therefore examined a line of Btbd9 mutant mice we recently generated for phenotypes similar to symptoms found in RLS patients. We observed that the Btbd9 mutant mice had motor restlessness, sensory alterations likely limited to the rest phase, and decreased sleep and increased wake times during the rest phase. Additionally, the Btbd9 mutant mice had altered serum iron levels and monoamine neurotransmitter systems. Furthermore, the sensory alterations in the Btbd9 mutant mice were relieved using ropinirole, a dopaminergic agonist widely used for RLS treatment. These results, taken together, suggest that the Btbd9 mutant mice model several characteristics similar to RLS and would therefore be the first genotypic mouse model of RLS. Furthermore, our data provide further evidence that BTBD9 is involved in RLS, and future studies of the Btbd9 mutant mice will help shine light on its role in the pathophysiology of RLS. Finally, our data argue for the utility of Btbd9 mutant mice to discover and screen novel therapeutics for RLS. © The Author 2012. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Deandrade MP; Johnson RL; Unger EL; Zhang L; Van groen T; Gamble KL; Li Y
  • Start Page

  • 3984
  • End Page

  • 3992
  • Volume

  • 21
  • Issue

  • 18