Regenerative approaches in Huntington’s disease: From mechanistic insights to therapeutic protocols

J Sassone, E Papadimitriou, D Thomaidou

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Huntington’s Disease (HD) is a neurodegenerative disorder caused by a CAG expansion in the exon-1 of the IT15 gene encoding the protein Huntingtin. Expression of mutated Huntingtin in humans leads to dysfunction and ultimately degeneration of selected neuronal populations of the striatum and cerebral cortex. Current available HD therapy relies on drugs to treat chorea and control psychiatric symptoms, however, no therapy has been proven to slow down disease progression or prevent disease onset. Thus, although 24 years have passed since HD gene identification, HD remains a relentless progressive disease characterized by cognitive dysfunction and motor disability that leads to death of the majority of patients, on average 10–20 years after its onset. Up to now several molecular pathways have been implicated in the process of neurodegeneration involved in HD and have provided potential therapeutic targets. Based on these data, approaches currently under investigation for HD therapy aim on the one hand at getting insight into the mechanisms of disease progression in a human-based context and on the other hand at silencing mHTT expression by using antisense oligonucleotides. An innovative and still poorly investigated approach is to identify new factors that increase neurogenesis and/or induce reprogramming of endogenous neuroblasts and parenchymal astrocytes to generate new healthy neurons to replace lost ones and/or enforce neuroprotection of pre-existent striatal and cortical neurons. Here, we review studies that use human disease-in-a-dish models to recapitulate HD pathogenesis or are focused on promoting in vivo neurogenesis of endogenous striatal neuroblasts and direct neuronal reprogramming of parenchymal astrocytes, which combined with neuroprotective protocols bear the potential to reestablish brain homeostasis lost in HD. Copyright © 2018 Sassone, Papadimitriou and Thomaidou.
Original languageEnglish
Article number800
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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