Cutaneous sympathetic function in patients with multiple system atrophy

Clin Auton Res. 2003 Apr;13(2):91-5. doi: 10.1007/s10286-003-0072-z.


Some procedures increase the sweat output (SSwR; sympathetic sweat response) and reduce the cutaneous blood flow (SVR; skin vasomotor reflex) in the hand. We evaluated SSwRs and SVRs to deep inspiration, mental arithmetic, exercise, and tactile stimulation in 40 MSA patients and 15 healthy controls. We also conducted head-up tilt tests and R-R interval variation tests (CV(R-R)). SSwRs were present in all controls, but absent in 19 (47.5 %) of the MSA patients. The mean SSwR amplitudes in the MSA group were significantly lower than those in the control group. SVRs were evoked in all subjects except 3 MSA patients. There were no marked differences in SVR amplitudes between the two groups. Orthostatic hypotension and low CV(R-R) values were seen in 18 (45 %) and 13 (32.5 %) of the MSA patients, respectively. SSwR amplitudes correlated significantly with postural fall in blood pressure and CV(R-R) values in the MSA group. SSwRs were absent in about half of the MSA patients, and the SSwR results correlated with those of the cardiovascular autonomic tests. The SVRs were not severely disturbed in the MSA patients. We considered SSwR a useful index for the detection of autonomic dysfunction in MSA.

MeSH terms

  • Blood Flow Velocity
  • Female
  • Hand / innervation
  • Humans
  • Inhalation / physiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple System Atrophy / physiopathology*
  • Olivopontocerebellar Atrophies / physiopathology
  • Shy-Drager Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Skin / innervation*
  • Striatonigral Degeneration / physiopathology
  • Sweating / physiology
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / physiopathology*