Cortical peptide changes in Huntington's disease may be independent of striatal degeneration
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Patients with Huntington's disease (HD) develop pathological changes in cerebral cortex as well as in striatum. We studied levels of neuropeptide immunoreactivity in 13 areas of postmortem cerebral cortex dissected from 24 cases of HD and 12 controls. Concentrations of immunoreactive cholecystokinin (CCK-LI) were consistently elevated 57 to 153% in HD cortex. Levels of vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP-LI) and neuropeptide Y (NPY-LI) were significantly increased in 10 and 8 of the 13 cortical regions, respectively. Concentrations of somatostatin (SRIF-LI) were increased in only 3 areas, while substance P (SP-LI) was, for the most part, unchanged. Detailed analyses of the CCK-LI and VIP-LI data showed there to be no relationship between the increased cortical peptide levels and the degree of striatal atrophy. We studied the same cortical peptides in rats with long-standing striatal lesions and found no significant changes of CCK-LI, NPY-LI, VIP-LI, or SRIF-LI in any of the 8 cortical regions that were examined. These results indicate that there are widespread and differential changes in cortical neuropeptide systems in HD and that these changes occur independently of the striatal pathology that characterizes the illness.
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