Few studies have explored the determinants of MSA. Apart from age, no risk factor has been definitively identified. The goal of this proposal will be to take the first step in identifying factors associated with MSA, using a case-control method. Our hypotheses will be determined not only by an investigation of current understandings about MSA, but also by current theories regarding the determinants and the pathogenesis of other late-life neurodegenerative diseases, particularly Parkinson's disease (PD), which, like MSA, has alpha-synuclein-containing inclusions. In addition, risk factors for neurodegenerative disorders sharing the more general finding of protein aggregation will be investigated. A unique advantage of this application is the use of a well-characterized population with clinically Probable MSA, who will be followed clinically and for some studied at autopsy. All cases (n = 175) and controls (n = 350) enrolled in Core A will participate in Project I.
Four specific aims will be addressed: SA 1: To test the hypothesis that exposure to specific occupational or a vocational chemical exposure is associated with an increased risk of MSA; SA 2: To test the hypothesis that specific dietary factors have a direct effect on the risk of MSA; SA 3: To test the hypotheses that certain risk factors associated with PD or Alzheimer's disease (AD) alter the risk of MSA. Risk factors of interest include: use of tobacco, caffeine, alcohol, anti-inflammatory drugs (lower risk); head trauma, stimulant use (higher risk); SA 4:To determine whether there is familial aggregation of MSA or the symptoms of MSA, or of MSA and other neurodegenerative diseases (PD, AD, motor neuron disease). For each hypothesis, exposures believed to be causally associated with MSA are expected to be more common in persons with MSA than in controls. Hypothesis testing will use classical methods for univariate and multivariate analysis of case-control studies. We stress that these investigations constitute a necessary exploratory step in attempting to characterize the determinants of MSA.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Research Program Projects (P01)
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National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Initial Review Group (NSD)
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University of California San Diego
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