Autonomic failure is a key feature of multiple system atrophy (MSA). Moreover, early autonomic failure is an independent predictive factor for rapid disease progression and shorter survival. The assessment of autonomic failure is therefore important for both, the diagnosis and prognosis of MSA. Here, we evaluate autonomic dysfunction in MSA patients by the Scopa-Aut questionnaire. Potential associations between the Scopa-Aut questionnaire and established markers of disease progression - that is the Unified MSA Rating Scale (UMSARS) - were further assessed. The results confirm early and prominent autonomic failure in MSA patients. Relative scores were highest for the sexual and urinary subdomains. Surprisingly, relative scores in the cardiovascular subdomain were lowest suggesting that the Scopa-Aut questionnaire is suboptimal for the screening and evaluation of cardiovascular symptoms in MSA. A multivariate regression showed an association between total Scopa-Aut and UMSARS I scores. No significant changes in Scopa-Aut scores were observed during follow-up except for the urinary subdomain, while UMSARS I, II and IV scores significantly increased over time. In conclusion, Scopa-Aut can be used as a simple auto-questionnaire for the screening of autonomic symptoms in multiple system atrophy. It seems not useful as endpoint for disease-modification or neuroprotection trials.
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