AMINO ACID NEUROTRANSMITTER ABNORMALITIES IN HUNTINGTON'S DISEASE AND THE QUINOLINIC ACID ANIMAL MODEL OF HUNTINGTON'S DISEASE Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Concentrations of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), glutamate, aspartate, and taurine were measured in postmortem tissue from the brains of patients with Huntington's disease (HD) and in the quinolinic acid (QA) lesioned rat striatum. The aim of the study was to assess further the ability of the QA model of HD to reproduce the neurochemical features of the disease. Nine cortical and 9 subcortical regions were examined from 17 pathologically graded cases of HD and 10 controls. Significant reductions in both GABA and glutamate were found in HD striatum. The reductions were greater in the more severely affected grades of HD, and there was a gradient of amino acid loss across the striatal nuclei (caudate greater than putamen greater than nucleus accumbens) which was consistent with the known pattern of pathological involvement. Taurine and aspartate concentrations showed no significant change. GABA reductions were found in both segments of the globus pallidus (external greater than internal) and both parts of the substantia nigra (reticulata greater than compacta). In advanced cases of HD, there were significant reductions in glutamate in Brodmann cortical areas 3-1-2, 6, 9, and 17, but GABA, aspartate, and taurine were unaltered in the cortex. The QA lesions reproduced the striatal deficits of both GABA and glutamate but, in contrast to HD, there was a decrease in taurine, possibly due to species differences. Chronic QA lesions resulted in a secondary dying back of corticostriatal glutamatergic terminals, but did not produce a change in cortical glutamate concentration. This suggests that reductions in cortical glutamate in HD may reflect a primary loss of glutamatergic neurons. Our findings extend previous observations on amino acid neurotransmitters in HD and, with the exception of taurine, confirm the general applicability of the QA model.

publication date

  • 1987

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