Cardiovascular autonomic function testing in multiple system atrophy and Parkinson's disease: an expert-based blinded evaluation

Fabian Leys, Alessandra Fanciulli, Jean-Pierre Ndayisaba, Roberta Granata, Walter Struhal, Gregor K Wenning

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

9 Citations (Scopus)


PURPOSE: Multiple system atrophy (MSA) and Parkinson's disease (PD) are sporadic neurodegenerative diseases characterized by an accumulation of misfolded α-synuclein. Cardiovascular autonomic failure develops in both MSA and PD, although studies indicate different sites of autonomic nervous system lesion. However, it is unclear whether this could potentially aid the differential diagnosis of these diseases. Here we determined whether cardiovascular autonomic function testing (CAFT) can discriminate between the parkinsonian variant of MSA (MSA-P) and PD based on either an expert-based blinded evaluation or a systematic comparison of cardiovascular autonomic function indices.

METHODS: We included 22 patients aged 55-80 with neurogenic orthostatic hypotension (nOH) who had been diagnosed with either clinically probable MSA-P (n = 11) according to current consensus criteria or clinically definite PD (n = 11) according to the Queen Square criteria. Three physicians with expertise in CAFT were blinded to the neurological diagnosis and were asked to identify the correct neurological diagnosis by applying a self-created evaluation scheme to the CAFT recordings. Afterwards, a systematic comparison of clinical-demographic characteristics and CAFT parameters was carried out.

RESULTS: Neither the raters (overall diagnostic accuracy: 58.46%) nor the evaluation scheme created post hoc (72.73%) showed reliable discriminatory capacity. The inter-rater reliability was slight (κ = 0.01). We observed no statistically significant differences in cardiovascular autonomic indices between PD and MSA-P patients.

CONCLUSION: CAFT is the gold standard for assessing the presence and severity of cardiovascular autonomic failure, but the results of our pilot study suggest that CAFT might be of limited value in the differential diagnosis between MSA-P and PD once nOH is present.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-263
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Autonomic Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jun 2020


  • Autonomic Nervous System
  • Autonomic Nervous System Diseases/diagnosis
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Multiple System Atrophy/diagnosis
  • Parkinson Disease/complications
  • Pilot Projects
  • Reproducibility of Results


Dive into the research topics of 'Cardiovascular autonomic function testing in multiple system atrophy and Parkinson's disease: an expert-based blinded evaluation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this