Huntington's disease is a neurodegenerative illness caused by expansion of CAG repeats at the N-terminal end of the protein huntingtin. We examined longitudinal changes in brain metabolite levels using in vivo magnetic resonance spectroscopy in five different mouse models. There was a large (>50%) exponential decrease in N-acetyl aspartate (NAA) with time in both striatum and cortex in mice with 150 CAG repeats (R6/2 strain). There was a linear decrease restricted to striatum in N171-82Q mice with 82 CAG repeats. Both the exponential and linear decreases of NAA were paralleled in time by decreases in neuronal area measured histologically. Yeast artificial chromosome transgenic mice with 72 CAG repeats, but low expression levels, had less striatal NAA loss than the N171-82Q mice (15% vs. 43%). We evaluated the effect of gene context in mice with an approximate 146 CAG repeat on the hypoxanthine phosphoribosyltransferase gene (HPRT). HPRT mice developed an obese phenotype in contrast to weight loss in the R6/2 and N171-82Q mice. These mice showed a small striatal NAA loss (21%), and a possible increase in brain lipids detectable by magnetic resonance (MR) spectroscopy and decreased brain water T1. Our results indicate profound metabolic defects that are strongly affected by CAG repeat length, as well as gene expression levels and protein context.
- Huntington's disease
- Magnetic resonance spectroscopy
- N-acetyl aspartate
- Neuronal area
- Transgenic mice
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience