Progressive retinal structure abnormalities in multiple system atrophy

Carlos E. Mendoza-Santiesteban, Jose Alberto Palma, Jose Martinez, Lucy Norcliffe-Kaufmann, Thomas R. Hedges, Horacio Kaufmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Background: Objective measures of disease progression that can be used as endpoints in clinical trials of MSA are necessary. We studied retinal thickness in patients with MSA and assessed changes over time to determine its usefulness as an imaging biomarker of disease progression. Methods: This was a cross-sectional study including 24 patients with MSA, 20 with PD, and 35 controls, followed by a longitudinal study of 13 MSA patients. Patients were evaluated with high-definition optical coherence tomography and the Unified Multiple System Atrophy Rating Scale. Evaluations were performed at baseline and at consecutive follow-up visits for up to 26 months. Results: MSA subjects had normal visual acuity and color discrimination. Compared to controls, retinal nerve fiber layer (P = 0.008 and P = 0.001) and ganglion cell complex (P = 0.013 and P = 0.001) thicknesses were reduced in MSA and PD. No significant differences between MSA and PD were found. Over time, in patients with MSA, there was a significant reduction of the retinal nerve fiber layer and ganglion cell complex thicknesses, with estimated annual average losses of 3.7 and 1.8 μm, respectively. Conclusions: Visually asymptomatic MSA patients exhibit progressive reductions in the thickness of the retinal nerve fiber layer and, to a lesser extent, in the macular ganglion cell complex, which can be quantified by high-definition optical coherence tomography. Specific patterns of retinal nerve fiber damage could be a useful imaging biomarker of disease progression in future clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1944-1953
Number of pages10
JournalMovement Disorders
Issue number14
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Ganglion cell complex
  • Multiple system atrophy
  • Optical coherence tomography
  • Parkinson disease
  • Retinal nerve fiber layer
  • Unified multiple system atrophy rating scale

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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