Huntington's disease (HD) is a progressive, autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disorder that is pathologically characterized by a striatal-specific degeneration. Aberrant dopamine neurotransmission has been proposed as a mechanism underlying the movement disorder of HD. We report that the enzymatic activity of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), the rate-limiting enzyme for dopamine biosynthesis, is decreased in a transgenic mouse model of HD. In addition, mutant huntingtin was found to disrupt transcription of TH and dopamine β-hydroxylase (DβH) promoter reporter constructs. In situ hybridization revealed extensive loss of TH mRNA and decreased dopaminergic cell size in human HD substantia nigra. TH-immunoreactive protein was reduced in human grade 4 HD substantia nigra by 32% compared to age-matched controls. These findings implicate abnormalities in dopamine neurotransmission in HD and may provide new insights into targets for pharmacotherapy.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience