Restless legs syndrome among subjects having chronic liver disease: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Ravi Gupta, Rohit Gupta, Niraj Kumar, Vikram Singh Rawat, Jan Ulfberg, Richard Putnam Allen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Sleep disturbances are commonly reported in patients with chronic liver disease (CLD). Changes in quality of sleep in patients with CLD could be related to multiple factors viz., elevated levels of tryptophan, histamine, and increased turnover of dopamine in caudate-putamen and cingulate cortex. Also, iron metabolism disturbances are reported in patients with CLD. These changes may result in restless legs syndrome (RLS) that worsens sleep-quality. There have been reports suggesting an increased prevalence of RLS among patients with CLD. Literature was searched in PubMed, EMBASE, and Google Scholar. A total of twenty-two relevant articles were found. Out of these, nine studies have assessed the prevalence of RLS among patients with chronic liver disease or cirrhosis in the clinical population. Population prevalence reported from various studies was used to calculate odds ratio. Having included studies using various methods for diagnosis (clinical as well as questionnaires) pooled odds-ratio for the RLS was 8.62. It remains unaffected by study-method, gender, age, and geographical-area. However, studies using clinical diagnosis for RLS had lower odds compared to questionnaire based diagnosis. Studies varied with regards to diagnostic methods, age, gender, etiology, and severity of liver dysfunction. The severity and etiology of CLD and biochemical correlate of CLD were not found to be associated with RLS. Possible pathophysiological mechanisms are discussed for the occurrence of RLS in this population. In conclusion, the prevalence of RLS is higher among patients with CLD, however, the correlates are unknown.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101463
JournalSleep Medicine Reviews
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • CLD
  • Chronic liver disease
  • Cirrhosis
  • RLS
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Sleep
  • WED
  • Willis-Ekbom's disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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