Sex-related differences in the clinical presentation of multiple system atrophy

Clin Auton Res. 2024 Apr;34(2):253-268. doi: 10.1007/s10286-024-01028-1. Epub 2024 Apr 17.


Purpose: To investigate sex-related differences in the clinical presentation of multiple system atrophy (MSA) through a literature review and an analysis of a retrospective cohort.

Methods: The PubMed database was searched for articles including sex-related information in MSA. In a retrospective Innsbruck cohort, we investigated the baseline to last available follow-up clinical-demographic differences between men and women with MSA in a univariate fashion, followed by multivariable binary regression analysis.

Results: The literature search yielded 46 publications with sex-related information in MSA. Most studies found comparable survival rates between the sexes, while some recent reports suggested a potential survival benefit for women, possibly due to initial motor onset and overall less severe autonomic failure compared to men. The retrospective Innsbruck MSA cohort comprised 56 female and 60 male individuals with a comparable median follow-up of 27 months. At baseline, female sex was independently associated with depression (odds ratio [OR] 4.7; p = 0.007) and male sex with severe orthostatic hypotension (OR 5.5; p = 0.016). In addition, at last follow-up, female sex was associated with the intake of central nervous system-active drugs (OR 4.1; p = 0.029), whereas male sex was associated with the presence of supine hypertension (OR 3.0; p = 0.020) and the intake of antihypertensive medications (OR 8.7; p = 0.001). Male sex was also associated with initiation of antihypertensive medications over the observation period (OR 12.4; p = 0.004).

Conclusion: The available literature and findings of the present study indicate sex-related differences in the clinical presentation of MSA and its evolution over time, highlighting the importance of considering sex in symptom exploration, therapeutic decision-making, and future clinical trial design.

Keywords: Clinical presentation; Differences; Gender; Multiple system atrophy; Sex.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple System Atrophy* / diagnosis
  • Multiple System Atrophy* / physiopathology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Characteristics*