Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

BUSM Study Identifies Pathology of Huntington’s Disease

18.10.2012
A study led by researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) provides novel insight into the impact that Huntington’s disease has on the brain. The findings, published online in Neurology, pinpoint areas of the brain most affected by the disease and opens the door to examine why some people experience milder forms of the disease than others.
Richard Myers, PhD, professor of neurology at BUSM, is the study’s lead/corresponding author. This study, which is the largest to date of brains specific to Huntington’s disease, is the product of nearly 30 years of collaboration between the lead investigators at BUSM and their colleagues at the McLean Brain Tissue Resource Center, Massachusetts General Hospital and Columbia University.

Huntington’s disease (HD) is an inherited and fatal neurological disorder that typically is diagnosed when a person is approximately 40 years old. The gene responsible for the disease was identified in 1993, but the reason why certain neurons or brain cells die remains unknown.

The investigators examined 664 autopsy brain samples with HD that were donated to the McLean Brain Bank. They evaluated and scored more than 50 areas of the brain for the effects of HD on neurons and other brain cell types. This information was combined with a genetic study to characterize variations in the Huntington gene. They also gathered the clinical neurological information on the patients’ age when HD symptoms presented and how long the patient survived with the disease.

Based on this analysis, the investigators discovered that HD primarily damages the brain in two areas. The striatum, which is located deep within the brain and is involved in motor control and involuntary movement, was the area most severely impacted by HD. The outer cortical regions, which are involved in cognitive function and thought processing, also showed damage from HD, but it was less severe than in the striatum.

The investigators identified extraordinary variation in the extent of cell death in different brain regions. For example, some individuals had extremely severe outer cortical degeneration while others appeared virtually normal. Also, the extent of involvement for these two regions was remarkably unrelated, where some people demonstrated heavy involvement in the striatum but very little involvement in the cortex, and vice versa.

“There are tremendous differences in how people with Huntington’s disease are affected,” Myers said. “Some people with the disease have more difficulty with motor control than with their cognitive function while others suffer more from cognitive disability than motor control issues.”

When studying these differences, the investigators noted that the cell death in the striatum is heavily driven by the effects of variations in the Huntington gene itself, while effects on the cortex were minimally affected by the HD gene and are thus likely to be a consequence of other unidentified causes. Importantly, the study showed that some people with HD experienced remarkably less neuronal cell death than others.

“While there is just one genetic defect that causes Huntington’s disease, the disease affects different parts of the brain in very different ways in different people,” said Myers. “For the first time, we can measure these differences with a very fine level of detail and hopefully identify what is preventing brain cell death in some individuals with HD.”

The investigators have initiated extensive studies into what genes and other factors are associated with the protection of neurons in HD, and they hope these protective factors will point to possible novel treatments.

This research was supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke under award number R01NS073947 and the Jerry McDonald Huntington’s Disease Research Fund.

Jenny Eriksen Leary | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.bmc.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A Map of the Cell’s Power Station
18.08.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht On the way to developing a new active ingredient against chronic infections
18.08.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>