Muscle and skin sympathetic activities in Ross syndrome

V. Donadio, P. Cortelli, M. P. Giannoccaro, M. Nolano, V. Di Stasi, A. Baruzzi, R. Liguori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Ross syndrome (RS) is a rare degenerative disorder characterized by tonic pupil, areflexia and anhydrosis. The underlying lesion affects postganglionic skin sympathetic nerve fibers whereas the postganglionic muscle sympathetic branch is thought to be spared. Microneurography explores both skin and muscle peripheral sympathetic branches and it does not usually detect peripheral sympathetic outflow in either branch in chronic autonomic failure syndromes. The aim of this study was to record sympathetic activity by microneurography for the first time in RS patients to confirm the selective involvement of skin sympathetic nerve activity (SSNA) with spared muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA). Methods: We studied seven patients (49 ± 14. years, four males) with a typical clinical picture and skin biopsy findings. Patients underwent cardiovascular reflexes and microneurography from the peroneal nerve (anhydrotic skin) to record MSNA, SSNA and the corresponding organ effector responses (skin sympathetic response-SSR and skin vasomotor response-SVR) in the same innervation field. The absence of sympathetic bursts was established after exploring at least three different corresponding nerve fascicles. Twenty age-matched healthy subjects served as controls. Results: RS patients complained of diffuse anhydrosis and they showed tonic pupil and areflexia. Cardiovascular reflexes were normal. All patients displayed absent SSNA, SSR and SVR whereas MSNA was always recorded showing normal characteristics. Conclusion: Microneurographic study of sympathetic activity from affected skin confirmed the selective involvement of skin sympathetic activity with spared muscle sympathetic activity and it may represent the neurophysiological hallmark of the disease. Significance: Microneurography together with clinical and skin biopsy findings may contribute to RS diagnosis. Our data also suggest that autonomic damage in RS does not involve cardiovascular activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1639-1643
Number of pages5
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012


  • Microneurography
  • Muscle sympathetic nerve activity
  • Ross syndrome
  • Skin sympathetic nerve activity
  • Skin sympathetic response
  • Skin vasomotor response

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Sensory Systems


Dive into the research topics of 'Muscle and skin sympathetic activities in Ross syndrome'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this