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Huntington’s Disease and Striatal Signaling

Frontiers in Neuroanatomy
Frontiers Media SA
Publication Date
DOI: 10.3389/fnana.2011.00055
  • Neuroscience
  • Review Article
  • Biology
  • Medicine


Huntington’s Disease (HD) is the most frequent neurodegenerative disease caused by an expansion of polyglutamines (CAG). The main clinical manifestations of HD are chorea, cognitive impairment, and psychiatric disorders. The transmission of HD is autosomal dominant with a complete penetrance. HD has a single genetic cause, a well-defined neuropathology, and informative pre-manifest genetic testing of the disease is available. Striatal atrophy begins as early as 15 years before disease onset and continues throughout the period of manifest illness. Therefore, patients could theoretically benefit from therapy at early stages of the disease. One important characteristic of HD is the striatal vulnerability to neurodegeneration, despite similar expression of the protein in other brain areas. Aggregation of the mutated Huntingtin (HTT), impaired axonal transport, excitotoxicity, transcriptional dysregulation as well as mitochondrial dysfunction, and energy deficits, are all part of the cellular events that underlie neuronal dysfunction and striatal death. Among these non-exclusive mechanisms, an alteration of striatal signaling is thought to orchestrate the downstream events involved in the cascade of striatal dysfunction.

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