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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 support nerve cells 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. In some individuals, levodopa may improve motor function, but the benefit may not continue as the disease progresses.

What is the prognosis?

The disease tends to advance rapidly over the course of 5 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. Researchers hope to learn why alpha-synuclein buildup occurs in MSA and Parkinson’s disease, and how to prevent it. Drugs that reduce the abnormal alpha-synuclein buildup may be promising treatments for MSA

NIH Patient Recruitment for Multiple System Atrophy Clinical Trials

Organizations

Column1 Column2
Cure PSP
30 E. Padonia Road
Suite 201
Timonium, MD   21093
infor@curepsp.org
http://www.psp.org/
Tel: 800-457-4777; 410-785-7004
Fax: 410-785-7009

The Multiple System Atrophy Coalition
9935-D Rea Road
Charlotte, NC   28227
vjames@msacoalition.org
http://www.multiple-system-atrophy.org
Tel: 866-737-5999

National Library of Medicine (NLM)
National Institutes of Health, DHHS
8600 Rockville Pike, Bldg. 38, Rm. 2S10
Bethesda, MD   20894
http://www.nlm.nih.gov
Tel: 301-496-6308 888-346-3656

National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD)
55 Kenosia Avenue
Danbury, CT   06810
orphan@rarediseases.org
http://www.rarediseases.org
Tel: 203-744-0100 Voice Mail 800-999-NORD (6673)
Fax: 203-798-2291

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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 December 18, 2014