Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Charles F. Ide


Multiple System Atrophy (MSA), Purkinje Cells, microglia

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Campus Only


Multiple system atrophy (MSA) is a sporadic neurodegenerative disease with unknown etiology, involving symptoms of Parkinson's disease, autonomic failure, and olivopontocerebellar atrophy. To define a possible relationship between immune cells and loss of Purkinje cells in MSA, I measured the incidence of CD68+ positive microglia/ macrophages directly associated with calbindin+ Purkinje cell bodies and/or their axons and dendrites. MSA patients showed fewer Purkinje cell bodies (p=0.001), dendrites (p=0.044), and axons (p=0.002), and decreased area of staining for calbindin in cerebellar tracts (p=0.027). Controls patients had larger and more circular Purkinje cell bodies (p=0.002; p=0.01, respectively). A greater density of CD68 staining directly associated with calbindin-stained profiles occurred only in MSA cerebellar tracts (p=0.043). These results indicate that the loss of Purkinje cell bodies and their processes are not due to direct spatial association with CD68 cells.

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