A detailed examination of substance P in pathologically graded cases of Huntington's disease
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Substance P concentrations have been found to be reduced in the basal ganglia in Huntington's disease (HD). In order to further examine this finding in the present study we measured substance P-like immunoreactivity (SPLI) in cases of HD which had been graded as to the severity of pathological changes in the striatum. Marked significant reductions of SPLI were found in all striatal nuclei which were significantly correlated with the percentage of neuronal loss in the varying pathologic grades. Similar changes were found in the projection sites of striatal substance P neurons, the globus pallidus interna and the substantia nigra. These changes are consistent with a loss of striatal substance P containing projection neurons in HD. Significant reductions in SPLI were also found in the external pallidum, bed nucleus of the stria terminalis and the subthalamic nucleus. Small significant increases in SPLI (20-30%) were found in 3 frontal cortical regions (Brodmann areas 6, 8 and 9). The finding of neurochemical changes in the subthalamic nucleus is of particular interest since lesions in this nucleus are known to result in chorea and therefore might contribute to the chorea which is a cardinal symptom of HD.
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