Nocturnal body core temperature falls in Parkinson's disease but not in multiple-system atrophy

G. Pierangeli, F. Provini, P. Maltoni, G. Barletta, M. Contin, E. Lugaresi, P. Montagna, P. Cortelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To evaluate whether the circadian rhythm of body core temperature (CRT°) can differentiate Multiple-System Atrophy (MSA) from Idiopathic Parkinson's disease (IPD). Methods: We evaluated 14 patients with probable MSA, seven with IPD, and eight controls. After a preliminary evaluation of cardiovascular autonomic function, rectal temperature and sleep-wake cycle were monitored continuously for 48 hours in a temperature-controlled room, at constant bed rest with controlled food intake and fixed light-dark schedule. Results: MSA patients showed cardiovascular autonomic sympathetic and parasympathetic failure. IPD had normal cardiovascular autonomic function. A 24-hour rhythm of body core temperature (BcT°) was present in all subjects. IPD had CRT° comparable to controls. In MSA the mesor was higher and mean BcT° of each hour was significantly higher from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. The analysis of mean BcT° during the different sleep phases showed significantly higher values during both NREM (1-2, 3-4) and REM sleep stages in MSA. Conclusions: The physiological nocturnal fall of BcT° is blunted in MSA patients mainly because BcT° did not decrease during sleep. This CRT° pattern is not justified by differences in sleep structure and may reflect an impairment of central sympathetic nervous system function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)226-232
Number of pages7
JournalMovement Disorders
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2001


  • Autonomic failure
  • Body temperature
  • Circadian rhythm
  • Multiple system atrophy
  • Parkinson's disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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