Lessons from animal models of Huntington's disease.
ABSTRACT Huntington's disease (HD) is an autosomal-dominant neurodegenerative disorder caused by a CAG trinucleotide repeat expansion in the HD gene. The expanded repeats are translated into an abnormally long polyglutamine tract close to the N-terminus of the HD gene product, huntingtin. Studies in mouse models and human suggest that the mutation is associated with a deleterious gain of function. There is now a wide range of mouse models for HD, providing important insights into processes associated with disease pathogenesis. These models have been complemented by studies in Drosophila and Caenorhabditis elegans that have allowed the identification of possible modifier loci through suppressor screens.
Article: Rilmenidine attenuates toxicity of polyglutamine expansions in a mouse model of Huntington's disease.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Huntington's disease (HD) is an autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disease caused by a polyglutamine expansion in huntingtin. There are no treatments that are known to slow the neurodegeneration caused by this mutation. Mutant huntingtin causes disease via a toxic gain-of-function mechanism and has the propensity to aggregate and form intraneuronal inclusions. One therapeutic approach for HD is to enhance the degradation of the mutant protein. We have shown that this can be achieved by upregulating autophagy, using the drug rapamycin. In order to find safer ways of inducing autophagy for clinical purposes, we previously screened United States Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs for their autophagy-stimulating potential. This screen suggested that rilmenidine, a well tolerated, safe, centrally acting anti-hypertensive drug, could induce autophagy in cell culture via a pathway that was independent of the mammalian target of rapamycin. Here we have shown that rilmenidine induces autophagy in mice and in primary neuronal culture. Rilmenidine administration attenuated the signs of disease in a HD mouse model and reduced levels of the mutant huntingtin fragment. As rilmenidine has a long safety record and is designed for chronic use, our data suggests that it should be considered for the treatment of HD and related conditions.Human Molecular Genetics 02/2010; 19(11):2144-53. · 7.64 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Defects in cellular energy metabolism represent an early feature in a variety of human neurodegenerative diseases. Recent studies have shown that targeting energy metabolism can protect against neuronal cell death in such diseases. Here, we show that meclizine, a clinically used drug that we have recently shown to silence oxidative metabolism, suppresses apoptotic cell death in a murine cellular model of polyglutamine (polyQ) toxicity. We further show that this protective effect extends to neuronal dystrophy and cell death in Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila melanogaster models of polyQ toxicity. Meclizine's mechanism of action is not attributable to its anti-histaminergic or anti-muscarinic activity, but rather, strongly correlates with its ability to suppress mitochondrial respiration. Since meclizine is an approved drug that crosses the blood-brain barrier, it may hold therapeutic potential in the treatment of polyQ toxicity disorders, such as Huntington's disease.Human Molecular Genetics 10/2010; 20(2):294-300. · 7.64 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Huntington's disease (HD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that is caused by abnormal expansion of CAG trinucleotide repeats. Neuroinflammation is a typical feature of most neurodegenerative diseases that leads to an array of pathological changes within the affected areas in the brain. The neurodegeneration in HD is also caused by aberrant immune response in the presence of aggregated mutant huntingtin protein. The effects of immune activation in HD nervous system are a relatively unexplored area of research. This paper summarises immunological features associated with development and progression of HD.Neurology research international. 01/2011; 2011:563784.