Diego García-Borreguero

Restless legs syndrome/periodic limb movements of sleep: New insights into neurobiology and treatment

Diego García-Borreguero, MD, PhD
Neurologist, Director
Sleep Research Institute, Madrid (Spain)

Keynote Summary: Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a common chronic neurological disorder that manifests through sensorimotor symptoms that interfere with rest and sleep. It has a wide spectrum of symptom severity affecting not only quality of life but also possibly increasing cardiovascular risk.

Our knowledge on the causes and mechanisms of RLS is still limited: several susceptible single nucleotide polymorphisms such as BTBD9 and MEIS1, which are thought to be involved in embryonic neuronal development, have been reported to be associated with RLS. An increasing number of studies have suggested an important role of brain iron deficiency in the pathophysiology of RLS. Moreover, a number of recent preclinical and clinical studies suggest a hypoadenosinergic state leading to hypersensitive cortico-striatal input and leading to a striatal presynaptic hyperglutamatergic and hyperdopaminergic neurotransmission. Understanding the interplay between these dysfunctional striatal circuitries might be crucial to develop new therapeutic targets.

Biosketch: Diego García-Borreguero, MD, is currently Director of the Sleep Research Institute, in Madrid (Spain) and Santiago (Chile). Until 2005, he was Director of the Sleep Disorders Center at the Dept of Neurology of the Fundación Jiménez Díaz (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid), Spain. He received his medical degree from the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain. Prior to his present position, Dr. García-Borreguero completed fellowships in Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, and underwent residency training at the Max Planck Institute in Munich, Germany. He completed his PhD at the University of Munich.

Dr. García-Borreguero’s main area of research is RLS/PLMD, where he is one of the world´s leading international experts. Within that field, his main focus of research is circadian rhythms, augmentation and treatment outcomes. Over the last years, his research has focused on non-dopaminergic mechanisms in RLS.

Over these years, he has been particularly active at the European Sleep Research Society, where he served between 2004 and 2008 as secretary of the Board, and is currently chairing the Medical Guideline Subcommittee within the ESRS-Sleep Medicine Committee. Dr. Garcia-Borreguero is also past-president of the Spanish Sleep Society.