Weight loss is an important complication of Huntington’s disease (HD), however the mechanism for weight loss in HD is not entirely understood. Mutant huntingtin is expressed in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and, in HD mice, mutant huntingtin inclusions are found within the enteric nervous system along the GI tract. A reduction of neuropeptides, decreased mucosal thickness and villus length, as well as gut motility impairment, have also been shown in HD mice. We therefore set out to study gastric mucosa of patients with HD, looking for abnormalities of mucosal cells using immunohistochemistry. In order to investigate possible histological differences related to gastric acid production, we evaluated the cell density of acid producing parietal cells, as well as gastrin producing cells (the endocrine cell controlling parietal cell function). In addition, we looked at chief cells and somatostatin-containing cells. In gastric mucosa from HD subjects, compared to control subject biopsies, a reduced expression of gastrin (a marker of G cells) was found. This is in line with previous HD mouse studies showing reduction of GI tract neuropeptides.
Huntington’s disease (HD) is an inherited neurodegenerative disorder caused by a CAG repeat expansion in the huntingtin (HTT) gene. Both central and peripheral innate immune activation have been described as features of the disease. Isolated human HD monocytes have been shown to produce more cytokines upon LPS stimulation compared to control monocytes. Understanding alterations in the signalling cascades responsible and activated by this increase in pro-inflammatory cytokine production is crucial in understanding the molecular basis of this phenomenon. Here we investigated the signalling cascade most commonly activated by pro-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-6 – the JAK/STAT signalling cascade. Using flow cytometry, we show that one out of three key transcription factors activated by JAK/STAT signalling is altered in primary human HD innate immune cells, suggesting that this pathway may only play a minor, additive role in the immune cell dysfunction in HD.
Huntington’s disease (HD) is an inherited neurodegenerative disorder characterized by both neurological and systemic abnormalities. Immune activation is a well-established feature of the HD brain and we have previously demonstrated a widespread, progressive innate immune response detectable in plasma throughout the course of HD. In the present work we used multiplex ELISA to quantify levels of chemokines in plasma from controls and subjects at different stages of HD. We found an altered chemokine profile tracking with disease progression, with significant elevations of five chemokines (eotaxin-3, MIP-1β, eotaxin, MCP-1 and MCP-4) while three (eotaxin-3, MIP-1β and eotaxin) showed significant linear increases across advancing disease stages. We validated our results in a separate sample cohort including subjects at different stages of HD. Here we saw that chemokine levels (MCP-1 and eotaxin) correlated with clinical scores. We conclude that, like cytokines, chemokines may be linked to the pathogenesis of HD, and that immune molecules may be valuable in tracking and exploring the pathogenesis of HD.
To evaluate whether cytokines are altered in peripheral blood of rats transgenic for the human Huntington´s disease mutation we investigated serum levels of GRO/KC, IL-1β, IL-13 and TNF-α at a symptomatic stage at 12 months of age. Overall serum levels of these cytokines were not significantly changed between transgenic HD rats and controls. Moreover, we observed a high interindividual variability. Our results indicate that these cytokines will be difficult to pursue as biomarkers in at least this rat model of HD.