The fundamental cause of multiple system atrophy (MSA) is a loss of oligodendroglial and neuronal cells in the brain and central nervous system. The loss of cells is gradual and progressive, leading to slowly worsening symptoms.
Degeneration is found in three parts of the nervous system: the basal ganglia, the cerebellum, and parts of the brain that regulate the autonomic nervous system. The basal ganglia are a set of nerves in the cerebrum that in part control voluntary movements. The cerebellum also controls voluntary muscle movements and contributes to balance.
However, what triggers the initial and ongoing loss of cells is unknown.
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