Ferritin subunits in CSF are decreased in restless legs syndrome

Stacey L. Clardy, Christopher J. Earley, Richard P. Allen, John L. Beard, James Connor

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69 Scopus citations


Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a neurological disorder that may be related to iron misregulation at the level of the central nervous system. Evidence that iron is involved in RLS comes from magnetic resonance imaging data, autopsy studies, analyses of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), and correlations of symptoms with serum ferritin. To further examine the possibility that brain iron status is insufficient in RLS, we determined ferritin levels in the CSF. Specifically, we differentiated between the H- and L-subunits of ferritin, because these peptides are expressed from different chromosomes and have different functions. We measured H- and L-ferritin subunit levels in control and RLS human CSF using immunoblot analysis and found that both H- and L-ferritin are significantly decreased in early but not late-onset RLS. Additionally, we quantified total protein in each CSF sample to establish that the decrease in ferritin subunits in RLS did not reflect a decrease in total protein in CSF. Furthermore, we used equal amounts of total CSF protein in the immunoblot analyses, in contrast to previously published studies that provided only volumetric data, to determine which approach was more accurate for quantifying the amount of ferritin relative to other proteins in CSF. Our results establish a protein standard in RLS, provide a comparative analysis of protein-controlled versus volumetric immunoblot techniques, and argue for a profound loss of iron storage capacity in the brain in RLS, specifically in the early onset RLS phenotype. These data suggest that CSF ferritin levels may provide a biomarker for assisting in the diagnosis of RLS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-73
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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