We investigated the appearance and progression of disease-relevant signs in the B6.HttQ111/+ mouse, a genetically precise model of the mutation that causes Huntington's disease (HD). We find that B6.HttQ111/+ mice are healthy, show no overt signs of central or peripheral inflammation, and no gross motor impairment as late as 12 months of age. Behaviorally, we find that 4-9 month old B6.HttQ111/+ mice have normal activity levels and show no clear signs of anxiety or depression, but do show clear signs of reduced motivation. The neuronal density, neuronal size, synaptic density and number of glia is normal in B6.HttQ111/+ striatum, the most vulnerable brain region in HD, up to 12 months of age. Despite this preservation of the synaptic and cellular composition of the striatum, we observe clear progressive, striatal-specific transcriptional dysregulation and accumulation of neuronal intranuclear inclusions (NIIs). Simulation studies suggest these molecular endpoints are sufficiently robust for future preclinical studies, and that B6.Htt Q111/+ mice are a useful tool for modeling disease-modifying or neuroprotective strategies for disease processes before the onset of overt phenotypes.
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