Journal Article

Ross syndrome: a rare or a misknown disorder of thermoregulation? A skin innervation study on 12 subjects

Maria Nolano, Vincenzo Provitera, Anna Perretti, Annamaria Stancanelli, Anna Maria Saltalamacchia, Vincenzo Donadio, Fiore Manganelli, Bernardo Lanzillo and Lucio Santoro

in Brain

Published on behalf of The Guarantors of Brain

Volume 129, issue 8, pages 2119-2131
ISSN: 0006-8950
Published online July 2006 | e-ISSN: 1460-2156 | DOI:
Ross syndrome: a rare or a misknown disorder of thermoregulation? A skin innervation study on 12 subjects

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Ross syndrome is described as a rare disorder of sweating associated with areflexia and tonic pupil. Since Ross's first description in 1958, ∼40 cases have been described. We assessed the involvement of cutaneous innervation in 12 subjects with Ross syndrome using quantitative sensory testing, sweating assessment and immunohistochemical study of anhidrotic and hyperhidrotic skin. This evaluation was repeated over time in 4 out of 12 subjects. In addition, we enrolled four subjects with Holmes–Adie syndrome (areflexia and tonic pupil) to investigate similarities between the two conditions. We found in Ross patients a complex and progressive involvement of cutaneous sensory and autonomic innervation underlying the impairment of heat production and heat dissipation through both loss of sweating and loss of cutaneous blood flow regulation. In Holmes–Adie subjects we found a mild impairment of sweating without thermoregulatory problems. The persistence of a sudomotor vasoactive intestinal peptide-immunoreactive (VIP-ir) innervation, although deranged and poor, definitely differentiated Holmes–Adie from Ross patients. Ross syndrome is a progressive and complex disorder of thermoregulation difficult to differentiate from the probably pathogenetically related Holmes–Adie syndrome. Sweating assessment and skin biopsy are suitable tools to define a boundary between them. Owing to the large number of Ross patients observed in only 5 years, and to the long and complex medical history of most of them, doubts arise on the effective rarity of this condition, and we warn family doctors and other specialists, besides neurologists, to become aware of this complex disorder.

Keywords: skin biopsy; Ross syndrome; autonomic nervous system; Holmes–Adie syndrome; thermoregulation

Journal Article.  6775 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Neurology ; Neuroscience

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