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NINDS Multiple System Atrophy Information Page

Condensed from Multiple System Atrophy Fact Sheet

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What is Multiple System Atrophy?

Multiple system atrophy (MSA) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by symptoms of autonomic nervous system failure such as fainting spells and bladder control problems, combined with motor control symptoms such as tremor, rigidity, and loss of muscle coordination. MSA affects both men and women primarily in their 50s.  Although what causes MSA is unknown, the disorder's symptoms reflect the loss of nerve cells in several different areas in the brain and spinal cord that control the autonomic nervous system and coordinate muscle movements.  The loss of nerve cells may be due to the buildup of a protein called alpha-synuclein in the cells that produce dopamine, a neurotransmitter that relays motor commands in the brain.

Is there any treatment?

There is no cure for MSA. Currently, there are no treatments to delay the progress of neurodegeneration in the brain. But there are treatments available to help people cope with some of the more disabling symptoms of MSA.

What is the prognosis?

The disease tends to advance rapidly over the course of 9 to 10 years, with progressive loss of motor skills, eventual confinement to bed, and death. There is no remission from the disease. There is currently no cure.

What research is being done?

The NINDS supports research about MSA through grants to major medical institutions across the country. In 2007, the NINDS sponsored a consensus conference that brought together experts from around the world to review and update the diagnostic criteria for MSA. These new diagnostic guidelines are helping doctors make quicker and more accurate diagnoses of MSA. A great deal of research is ongoing to learn why synuclein buildup occurs in MSA and Parkinson’s disease, and how to prevent it.

NIH Patient Recruitment for Multiple System Atrophy Clinical Trials

Organizations

Column1 Column2
Dysautonomia Foundation
315 W. 39th Street
Suite 701
New York, NY   10018
info@familialdysautonomia.org
http://www.familialdysautonomia.org
Tel: 212-279-1066
Fax: 212-279-2066

Familial Dysautonomia Hope Foundation, Inc. (FD Hope)
121 South Estes Drive
Suite 205-D
Chapel Hill, NC   27514-2868
info@fdhope.org
http://www.fdhope.org
Tel: 919-969-1414

National Dysautonomia Research Foundation
P.O. Box 301
Red Wing, MN   55066-0301
ndrf@ndrf.org
http://www.ndrf.org
Tel: 651-267-0525
Fax: 651-267-0524

The Multiple System Atrophy Coalition
8311 Brier Creek Parkway
Suite 105-434
Raleigh, NC   27617
vjames@msacoalition.org
http://www.multiple-system-atrophy.org
Tel: 1-866-737-5999

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Prepared by:
Office of Communications and Public Liaison
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD 20892



NINDS health-related material is provided for information purposes only and does not necessarily represent endorsement by or an official position of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke or any other Federal agency. Advice on the treatment or care of an individual patient should be obtained through consultation with a physician who has examined that patient or is familiar with that patient's medical history.

All NINDS-prepared information is in the public domain and may be freely copied. Credit to the NINDS or the NIH is appreciated.

Last updated April 16, 2014