Multi-systemic atrophy is a neurodegenerative disease, characterized by the progressive loss of neurons in certain areas of the central nervous system (SNC).
Because it usually affects base ganglia (where the substantia nigra is located), cerebellum and brainstem, this incurable neurological disease generally determines:
Motor and muscle problems, including bradykinesia, difficulty in starting movements, stiffness and tension in skeletal muscles, cramps, tramplessness and curved gait in walking.
As a result of the involvement of substantia nigra, these symptoms are the same as those experienced by Parkinson’s patient.
Coordination, balance and language problems. Lack of coordination and lack of balance lead to frequent falls; speech disorders induce dysarthria.
Problems in controlling automatic functions. This involves the onset of urinary incontinence, need for frequent urination, orthostatic hypotension, sleep disorders, erectile dysfunction, constipation, etc.
The first subtype is called “striatonigral degeneration” and those affected by it manifest mainly Parkinsonian symptoms, i. e. those that recall Parkinson’s disease.
Probably, in these patients, neurodegeneration mainly affects substantia nigra.
The second subtype is the so-called’ sporadic olive-ponto-cerebellar atrophy’. People with this form of multi-systemic atrophy suffer in particular from coordination and balance problems (cerebellar atrophy) and speech disorders.
Finally, the third subtype is the “Shy-Drager syndrome”, which is characterised mainly by the inability to control automatic functions.
Multiple system atrophy hereditary
(coq2- coenzyme q- SNCA- genes of some interleukins, TNF for example) that seem to have a role, but this is only about increased risk and eventual predisposition, not association with the disease. Exposure to environmental factors is not yet supported by sufficient data. Msa can be considered a disease related to complex genetic combinations and environmental factors. The interaction of these factors could be responsible for the variability of the picture observed in the various types of disease (cerebellar or Parkinsonian form among all)