Autophagy may be the key to finding treatments for early Huntington's disease
Huntington's Disease (HD) is a progressive neurodegenerative condition characterized by motor, cognitive, and psychiatric symptoms, and motor symptoms are often preceded by cognitive changes. Recent evidence indicates that autophagy plays a central role in synaptic maintenance, and the disruption in autophagy may be at the root of these early cognitive changes. Understanding this mechanism better may help researchers develop treatments for patients. n this review, experts describe how autophagy, the cellular process responsible for clearing old or damaged parts of the cell, plays a critical role supporting synaptic maintenance in the healthy brain, and how autophagy dysfunction in HD may thereby lead to impaired synaptic maintenance and thus early manifestations of disease. The line of research discussed in this review represents a previously unexplored avenue for identifying potential disease-modifying therapies for HD.
"Like many neurodegenerative conditions affecting primarily cognition, such as Alzheimer's disease, preclinical and clinical data indicate that synapses, the part of brain cells responsible for communication between cells, are affected early in HD. We have long thought that autophagy played a role in the pathophysiology of HD, but what this role is has been unclear until recently. Recent evidence indicates that autophagy may be important in maintaining the synapse. This line of research has the potential to lead to identification of a drug target to treat HD early in the disease process.
Immunogenetics Open Access