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Acta Neuropathol. 2001 Jan;101(1):57-64.

Primary involvement of the motor area in association with the nigrostriatal pathway in multiple system atrophy: neuropathological and morphometric evaluations.

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Department of Pathology, Research Institute for Brain and Blood Vessels, Akita, Japan.


To evaluate the changes that occur in the motor and supplementary motor cortices in cases of multiple system atrophy (MSA), we carried out morphological and morphometric studies in 7 cases of MSA and 11 age-matched controls. Neuropathological study revealed presence of glial cytoplasmic inclusions (GCIs) in the cortex and subcortical white matter of the motor and supplementary motor areas, loss of small to medium-sized pyramidal neurons, and astrocytosis in the motor cortex in all cases of MSA, showing a definite predilection in the cortical layers V and VI. The severity of neuronal loss in the motor cortex was highly correlated with the incidence of GCIs and the involvement of the nigrostriatal pathway. Morphometrically, significant reductions of both the thickness of motor cortical layers V and VI and the number of neurons were observed. In addition, a reduction in the number of neurons in the supplementary motor cortex was detected in three out of the seven MSA cases. The results of this study suggest that the motor area is a cardinal target in MSA, and that in association with the nigrostriatal pathway it forms a motor loop degeneration in this disease.

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