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.
Juvenile Huntington’s disease (JHD) is usually defined as Huntington’s disease with an onset ≤ 20 years. The proportion of JHD cases reported in studies of Huntington’s disease (HD) varies. A review of the literature found 62 studies that reported the proportion of JHD cases amongst all HD cases. The proportion of JHD cases in these studies ranged from 1% to 15%, and in a meta-analysis the pooled proportion of JHD cases was 4.92% (95% confidence interval of 4.07% to 5.84%). Limiting the analysis to the 25 studies which used multiple methods of ascertainment resulted in a similar pooled proportion of 5.32%, (95% confidence interval 4.18% to 6.60%).
A small difference was observed when the meta-analysis was restricted to studies from countries defined by the World Bank as high income, that used multiple methods of ascertainment, and that were conducted since 1980 (4.81%, 95% confidence interval 3.31% to 6.58%, n=11). This contrasts with the pooled result from three post 1980 studies using multiple methods of ascertainment from South Africa and Venezuela, defined by the World Bank as upper middle income, where the estimated mean proportion was 9.95%, (95% confidence interval 6.37% to 14.22%).
These results, which are expected to be more robust than those from a single study alone, may be helpful in estimating the proportion of JHD cases in a given population.
Key Words: Juvenile Huntington’s disease, prevalence, epidemiology
Background: The clinical presentation of Juvenile Huntington’s Disease (JHD) can be very different from adult-onset HD with little evidence to guide symptomatic management.
Aim: To survey the current use of pharmacological treatments for JHD.
Methods: Patients were identified through the HD Association, Hospital Doctors and the European Huntington’s Disease Network REGISTRY study.
Results: The most commonly prescribed agents were anti-psychotics (24/45), anti-depressants (17/45) and anti-parkinsonian medications (15/45). 5 patients were taking more than 8 medications.
Conclusions: The most commonly prescribed group of medication was the anti-psychotic. Many patients were on multiple therapies, highlighting the need to rationalise medications.