Anatomy of MSA

The underlying neurological anatomy of MSA is similar to that of Parkinson's disease, but with some noticeable and important differences. These differences can often, though not always, be seen on CT scan or MRI scan of the brain.

Even though each form of MSA is associated with its own characteristic anatomical abnormalities, they all share one thing in common: the presence of particular types of what are known as "inclusions." An inclusion is the presence of a foreign or abnormal substance inside a cell, in this case the neurons and glia cells, two different types of nervous system cells. However, the particular type of inclusion that is characteristic of MSA, is also found in other unrelated disorders.

Biochemically, MSA patients usually have a substantial reduction in dopamine and noradrenaline levels, as well as low levels of other neurochemicals.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 02 Jan 2000

Last Modified: 02 Dec 2011