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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Multiple system atrophy (MSA) with orthostatic hypotension

Other Names for this Disease
  • Multiple system atrophy with autonomic failure
  • Orthostatic hypotension, bladder and bowel incontinence, anhidrosis, iris atrophy, amyotrophy, ataxia, rigidity and tremor
  • Shy-Drager syndrome
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Your Question

My father has multiple system atrophy with orthostatic hypotension.  Is this hereditary?  Is this something my brother and sisters or our children should make our doctors aware of in case symptoms start appearing?

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

Is multiple system atrophy with orthostatic hypotension hereditary?

Most individuals diagnosed with multiple system atrophy (MSA) have no family history of this disease and develop this condition by chance (sporadically) due to a combination of factors, both genetic and environmental.  In rare instances, there have been reports of multiple members of the same family diagnosed with MSA, which suggests that these relatives could share a genetic risk factor that increases the chance of developing this disease.  However, researchers have not yet been able to identify the genetic risk factor in these families.  To date, only one gene, namely SNCA, has been associated with an increased risk for MSA.[1]  Therefore, there is a chance that relatives of an affected individual may be at risk to develop the disease, but it is very small.
Last updated: 3/1/2012

  • Stemberger S, Scholz SW, Singleton AB, Wenning GK. Genetic players in multiple system atrophy: unfolding the nature of the beast. Neurobiology of Aging. 2011; 32:1924.e5-14. Accessed 2/23/2012.