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Progression and prognosis in pure autonomic failure (PAF): comparison with multiple system atrophy
  1. N Mabuchi1,
  2. M Hirayama1,
  3. Y Koike2,
  4. H Watanabe1,
  5. H Ito1,
  6. R Kobayashi3,
  7. K Hamada1,
  8. G Sobue1
  1. 1Department of Neurology, Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine, Nagoya, Japan
  2. 2Department of Health Science, Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine
  3. 3Department of Neurology, National Nagoya Hospital
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Gen Sobue
 Department of Neurology, Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine, Nagoya 466–8550, Japan;


Objective: To clarify the progression of autonomic symptoms and functional deterioration in pure autonomic failure (PAF), particularly in comparison with multiple system atrophy (MSA).

Methods: The investigation involved eight patients with PAF (M/F = 7/1; mean age at onset, 57 years) and 22 with probable MSA matched for age at onset (M/F = 14/8; onset 56 years). Subjects were followed up for neurological symptoms, activities of daily living, and autonomic function for more than seven years. Autonomic functional tests were carried out.

Results: In PAF, fainting or sudomotor dysfunction occurred first, followed by constipation and syncope. Urinary dysfunction developed late, and respiratory dysfunction was not evident. This clinical course contrasted sharply with that in MSA, where early urinary dysfunction usually proceeded to sudomotor dysfunction or orthostatic hypotension (p = 0.004), followed by respiratory dysfunction (p = 0.0004). Results of pharmacological tests also distinguished PAF from MSA. Progression and prognosis in patients with PAF did not worsen, unlike the steady progressive autonomic dysfunction in MSA (p<0.0001, p<0.0001, p = 0.0009, and p = 0.003, for progression to modified Rankin scale grade III, IV, V, and death, respectively).

Conclusions: The time course and pattern of progression of autonomic failure differed significantly between PAF and MSA. Patients with PAF had slower functional deterioration and a better prognosis.

  • AVP, arginine-vasopressin
  • HUT, head up tilt test
  • MSA, multiple system atrophy
  • PAF, pure autonomic failure
  • multiple system atrophy
  • pure autonomic failure
  • prognosis
  • activities of daily living

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  • Competing interests: none declared