Autonomic involvement in extrapyramidal and cerebellar disorders

Clin Auton Res. 1991 Jun;1(2):147-55. doi: 10.1007/BF01826212.


We reviewed the clinical and autonomic features of all patients with extrapyramidal and cerebellar disorders studied in the Mayo Autonomic Reflex Laboratory from 1983 to 1989. Patients were grouped into the following categories (number in parentheses): Parkinson's disease (35); parkinsonism-plus (54); multiple system atrophy (75); hereditary multisystem degenerations (eleven); progressive supranuclear palsy (32); non-familial cerebellar degeneration (eleven); nonspecific sporadic multisystem degeneration (73). Severe autonomic failure occurred in 97% of patients with multiple system atrophy and 53% of the nonspecific sporadic multisystem degeneration patients respectively. Autonomic involvement was mild or absent in Parkinson's disease while parkinsonism-plus and non-familial cerebellar degeneration patients had moderate autonomic failure. Orthostatic blood pressure reduction, percentage of anhidrosis on thermoregulatory sweat test, quantitative sudomotor axon reflex test, forearm response and heart rate response to deep breathing strongly regressed with severity. A response to levodopa treatment in patients with parkinsonism was more likely if cerebellar signs and cognitive deficits were absent. The presence of levodopa induced dyskinesia was also a marker for a clinically favourable levodopa response. We conclude that there is a spectrum of autonomic involvement in these degenerative disorders and that autonomic studies are useful in separating them and monitoring their course.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antiparkinson Agents / therapeutic use
  • Autonomic Nervous System Diseases / diagnosis
  • Autonomic Nervous System Diseases / drug therapy
  • Autonomic Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Basal Ganglia Diseases / diagnosis
  • Basal Ganglia Diseases / drug therapy
  • Basal Ganglia Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Cerebellar Diseases / diagnosis
  • Cerebellar Diseases / drug therapy
  • Cerebellar Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Cognition Disorders / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Levodopa / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology
  • Reflex / physiology
  • Shy-Drager Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Supranuclear Palsy, Progressive / physiopathology
  • Valsalva Maneuver


  • Antiparkinson Agents
  • Levodopa