multiple system atrophy

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Journal club : 

Journal club Dr Ranjith Kumar resident in neurology Gandhi medical College

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Lancet Neurol 2009; 8: 1172–78 Vol 8 December 2009

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Multiple system atrophy (MSA) is a sporadic and rapidly progressive neurodegenerative disorder that presents with autonomic failure in combination with parkinsonism or cerebellar ataxia. 1969 -Graham and Oppenheimer -to combine the entities of striatonigral degeneration, olivopontocerebellar ataxia, and Shy-Drager syndrome . The pathological features comprise neuronal loss in the basal ganglia, cerebellum, pons, inferior olivary nuclei, and spinal cord accompanied by gliosis. Abundant argyrophilic filamentous glial cytoplasmic inclusions (GCIs) - pathological hallmark of the disease MSA as an α-synucleinopathy, together with Parkinson’s disease and dementia with Lewy bodies.

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The clinical diagnosis of MSA has been defined by consensus criteria first published in 1986 supported by the development of the unified MSA rating scale (UMSARS) in 2004. revision of the diagnostic criteria in 2008, including, for the first time, neuroimaging features. discusses the most recent insights into epidemiology, genetics, and clinical investigations.

Epidemiology and prognosis : 

Epidemiology and prognosis 0·6 per100 000 per year, reaching 3 per 100 000 per year in the population older than 50 years. Prevalence ranges from 1·9 to 4·9 per 100 000 inhabitants. Mean age at onset of MSA was 60 years (SD=9; range 34–83 years), and both sexes were affected equally. Mean survival ranges between 7 and 9 years after initial clinical presentation

Natural history : 

Natural history European MSA Study Group (EMSA-SG) – Predominance of parkinsonian features in 58% of patients (MSA-P subtype) or cerebellar ataxia in 42% of patients (MSA-C subtype North American study – Predominance of the parkinsonian subtype with 60% of MSA-P in comparison to 13% of MSA-C subtype Japanese population- The disease presents differently, with predominance of the cerebellar subtype (83·8%) as compared with only 16·2% of the MSA-P subtype Ethnic differences might indicate variations in genetic predisposition or environmental exposure

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MSA-P usually progresses substantially faster than Parkinson’s disease In the early stages, motor function impairment can be observed, accompanied by increased diffusivity in the putamen on diffusion-weighted MRI. The striatal pathology then spreads across the whole cortex with disease progression. Dysautonomia also deteriorates. Early autonomic failure does predict shorter survival time. Female sex, older age of onset, and shorter interval until clinical milestones are reached (eg, frequent falling, cognitive disability, unintelligible speech, dysphagia, dependence on wheelchair, and use of urinary catheters). O’Sullivan and colleagues: many disability milestones accumulated over a short period of time in MSA define the poor prognosis of the disease

Clinical presentation and diagnosis : 

Clinical presentation and diagnosis Heterogeneous combination of autonomic failure, urogenital dysfunction, cerebellar ataxia, parkinsonian features, and pyramidal signs. EMSA registry- urinary dysfunction (83%) symptomatic orthostatic dysregulation (75%) parkinsonism (87%) cerebellar ataxia (64%).

Definite MSA : 

Definite MSA The definite diagnosis is based on the neuro pathological evidence of GCIs in association with striatonigral degeneration or olivopontocerebellar ataxia. The disease onset is defined by the time of initial manifestation of any motor (parkinsonism or cerebellar dysfunction) or autonomic feature (except for erectile dysfunction). subclinical neuropathology is likely to start several years before overt disease

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Use of bladder function assessment often detects early abnormalities consistent with neurogenic disturbance. urodynamics that frequently indicate detrusor hyper-reflexia and abnormal urethral sphincter function ,lately increased residual urine volume as detected by ultrasound. Cardiovascular autonomic dysfunction in MSA is investigated by either a standing blood pressure test, if the patient is still ambulatory, or by tilt-table testing.

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Data from a recent study by Orimo and colleagues25 indicated different mechanisms underlying the degeneration of cardiac sympathetic nerves in Parkinson’s disease and MSA. Reduced cardiac uptake of ¹²³I-metaiodo benzylguanidine (MIBG) was associated with decreased number of tyrosine hydroxylase immunoreactive nerve fi bres in the epicardial nerve bundle in patients with Parkinson’s disease but not in controls or in patients with MSA. MIBG scintigraphy remains a useful cardio autonomic marker in the differential diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease versus MSA

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Possible neuro imaging criteria, including structural and functional imaging, have been introduced to assist the diagnosis of MSA. Routine MRI, diffusionweighted imaging MRI, voxel-based morphometry, and transcranial sonography have been suggested as options to support differentiation between MSA, Parkinson’s disease, and other atypical parkinsonian disorders. Furthermore, functional presynaptic and postsynaptic dopaminergic imaging by PET and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) has been advocated in the early diagnosis of MSA.

Insights into the pathogenesis of MSA: novel ,pathological, genetic, and experimental evidence : 

Insights into the pathogenesis of MSA: novel ,pathological, genetic, and experimental evidence core feature of MSA pathology is the widespread presence of GCIs, which are the obligatory subcellular feature for a definite diagnosis

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The density of GCIs containing á-synuclein correlates significantly with neuronal deterioration and disease duration. A new pathological grading system was proposed in 2005 to quantify GCI density and neuronal loss. Origin of á-synuclein deposition in GCIs is not yet understood. Hypothesis of a primary oligodendrogliopathy that precedes neuronal degeneration in MSA Abnormal accumulation of fibrillar á-synuclein has also been reported in neuronal cytoplasm and nuclei (NCIs and NNIs), as well as in neurites in human brains affected by MSA. Data from recent postmortem studies have suggested that NNIs develop early in the disease process in pontine nuclei and inferior olives of MSA brains neuronal dysfunction in á-synucleinopathies through common pathways, which involve cytoskeleton disruption with protein dislocation and aggregation

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. The crucial role of oligodendroglial pathology in MSA pathogenesis -discovery of early p25á accumulation in oligodendrocytes from patients with MSA p25á, also known as tubulin polymerisation promoting protein, is an oligodendroglia-specific phosphoprotein functionally associated with myelination. p25á is shifted into oligodendroglial cell bodies preceding á-synuclein aggregations. p25á stimulates á-synuclein aggregation in vitro. 50% of oligodendroglia show abnormal accumulation of p25α, which is often co-localised with α-synuclein positive GCIs Based on this evidence, two parallel degenerative processes in MSA have been proposed: 1.GCI-linked oligodendrogliopathy with secondary neuronal degeneration 2.neuronal á-synucleinopathy associated with aggregation formation (NNIs, NCIs, and neurites).

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molecular mechanisms of misfolding, aggregation, and fi brillation of α-synuclein overlap among the α-synucleinopathies. Disease-specific cascades that are determined by genetic and environmental factors are likely to discriminate these disorders. A genome-wide screening in MSA for candidate single nucleotide polymorphism associations -a signifi cant association between these polymorphisms (rs11931074, rs3857059, and rs3822086) at the SNCA locus and the risk for developing MSA. The role of environmental factors is still elusive. Results from several controlled studies have shown increased risk of MSA with occupational and daily habits, including exposure to solvents, plastic monomers, additives, metals and various other toxins, and history of farming.

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The role of oligodendroglial á-synucleinopathy as a trigger of MSA-like neurodegeneration has been investigated in transgenic mice with targeted overexpression of human á-synuclein under the control of specifi c oligodendroglial promoters. Insolubility and hyperphosphorylation of á-synuclein reproduced the main features of human GCI pathology in transgenic mice and further induced neuronal loss involving: i) axonal á-synuclein aggregation and axonal degeneration; ii) mitochondrial dysfunction iii) microgliosis or iv) environmental oxidative stress. well recognised limitations such as not being able to replicate complete MSA-like degeneration and no documented MSA-like change in CNS neurotransmitter expression

Therapeutic approaches : 

Therapeutic approaches At present, the therapy of MSA is only symptomatic and mainly targets parkinsonism and autonomic failure. So far, no effective neuroprotective therapy is available. Results from a placebo-controlled double-blind pilot trial with growth hormone therapy indicated a non-signifi cant trend to slower motor progression with treatment. The recently reported results from the Neuroprotection and Natural History In Parkinson Plus Syndromes (NNIPPS) trial did not show any beneficial effects of riluzole treatment for survival or rate of progression in MSA.

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Minocycline, in transgenic MSA mice-did not modify disease progression in MSA after 24 and 48 weeks of double-blind randomised treatment (Minocycline in European MSA [MEMSA] trial, the EMSA-SG, and the German Parkinson Network [Wenning GK, unpublished data]). Minocycline induced suppression of microgliosis as shown by ¹¹C-PK11195 PET imaging, suggesting that the negative outcome might, at least partly, be due to the late start of the minocycline therapy and might suggest that disease modifying therapies should be initiated early.

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Rasagiline, a selective irreversible monoamine oxidase B inhibitor, is a new therapeutic candidate for MSA that is expected to enter a phase 3 trial shortly. Rasagiline induces disease-modifying effects beyond symptomatic efficacy in patients with Parkinson’s disease (ADAGIO [Attenuation of Disease Progression with Azilect Given Once-daily] trial] Data from a preclinical study on rasagiline treatment in a transgenic MSA mouse model has shown neuroprotective effects, providing an experimental rationale for rasagiline as a disease-modifying candidate for MSA

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Anti-á-synuclein aggregation strategies are an alternative candidate therapeutic approach for MSA and other á-synucleinopathies currently under intense investigation. Rifampicin is a common antibiotic for the treatment of tuberculosis and leprosy, which has been shown to inhibit aggregation of á-synuclein. There was a reduction in monomeric, oligomeric, and phosphorylated á-synuclein seen in vivo in a transgenic mouse model of MSA after rifampicin treatment, as measured by western blot analysis, which was accompanied by decreased á-synuclein aggregation and associated with reduced neurodegeneration.

Towards brain repair in MSA : 

Towards brain repair in MSA Neurotransplantation- Striatal grafting has been proposed to “turn MSA into Parkinson’s disease” by recovering dopaminergic response in experimental double lesion models of MSA. Experiments in the transgenic MSA mouse model suggest possible host-to-graft migration of α-synuclein pathology, which might have long-term effects on the functional activity of the grafts. The search of optimum cell sources for neurotransplantation has identified autologous mesenchymal stem cells as a possible candidate for brain repair in MSA. A report by Lee and colleagues suggested slowed progression in patients with MSA-C who had mesenchymal stem cell grafts, although further preclinical work is necessary to define the mechanisms underlying this effect

Conclusions : 

Conclusions Extensive preclinical work has expanded the possibilities to use experimental MSA models to analyse disease specific mechanisms and to approach candidate therapeutic strategies to create a rationale for clinical trials that might finally lead to successful treatment

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Research will be needed to further understand the pathogenesis of MSA, validate and define the role of the new clinical diagnostic criteria, and to enhance the asessment of disease This research will also help to develop novel supportive neuroimaging methods and other clinical investigations that might improve the diagnostic precision and facilitate early diagnosis and treatment. Importantly, more effort will be necessary to define disease-modifying therapeutic strategies, which will ultimately lead to better quality of life and increased survival of patients with MSA.

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Thank you

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