Skin Biopsy May Help to Distinguish Multiple System Atrophy-Parkinsonism from Parkinson's Disease with Orthostatic Hypotension.Mov Disord. 2020 Jun 18 [Online ahead of print]MD
The differential diagnosis between multiple system atrophy parkinsonism type (MSA-P) and Parkinson's disease with orthostatic hypotension (PD+OH) is difficult because the 2 diseases have a similar clinical picture. The aim of this study is to distinguish MSA-P from PD+OH by immunostaining for abnormal phosphorylated α-synuclein at serine 129 (p-syn) in cutaneous nerves.
We recruited 50 patients with parkinsonism and chronic orthostatic hypotension: 25 patients fulfilled the diagnostic criteria for MSA-P and 25 patients for PD+OH. The patients underwent a skin biopsy from the cervical area, thigh, and leg to analyze somatic and autonomic skin innervation and p-syn in skin nerves.
Intraneural p-syn positivity was found in 72% of patients with MSA-P, mainly in distal skin sites. More important, p-syn deposits in MSA-P differed from PD+OH because they were mainly found in somatic fibers of subepidermal plexi, whereas scant autonomic fiber involvement was found in only 3 patients. All patients with PD+OH displayed widely distributed p-syn deposits in the autonomic skin fibers of proximal and distal skin sites, whereas somatic fibers were affected only slightly in 4 patients with PD+OH. Skin innervation mirrored p-syn deposits because somatic innervation was mainly reduced in MSA-P. Sympathetic innervation was damaged in PD+OH but fairly preserved in MSA-P.
The p-syn in cutaneous nerves allows the differentiation of MSA-P from PD+OH; MSA-P mainly shows somatic fiber involvement with relatively preserved autonomic innervation; and by contrast, PD+OH displays prevalent abnormal p-syn deposits and denervation in autonomic postganglionic nerves. © 2020 International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society.