Small-molecule TrKB receptor agonists improve motor function and extend survival in a mouse model of huntington's disease

Mali Jiang, Qi Peng, Xia Liu, Jing Jin, Zhipeng Hou, Jiangyang Zhang, Susumu Mori, Christopher A. Ross, Keqiang Ye, Wenzhen Duan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Huntington's disease (HD) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease characterized by abnormal motor coordination, cognitive decline and psychiatric disorders. This disease is caused by an expanded CAG trinucleotide repeat in the gene encoding the protein huntingtin. Reduced levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the brain, which results from transcriptional inhibition and axonal transport deficits mediated by mutant huntingtin, have been suggested as critical factors underlying selective neurodegeneration in both HD patients and HD mouse models. BDNF activates its high-affinity receptor TrkB and promotes neuronal survival; restoring BDNF signaling is thus of particular therapeutic interest. In the present study, we evaluated the ability of a small-molecule TrkB agonist 7,8-dihydroxyflavone (7,8-DHF) and its synthetic derivative 4'-dimethylamino-7,8- dihydroxyflavone (4'-DMA-7,8-DHF) to protect neurons in the well-characterized N171- 82Q HD mouse model. We found that chronic administration of 7, 8-DHF (5 mg/kg) or 4'-DMA-7,8-DHF (1 mg/ kg) significantly improved motor deficits, ameliorated brain atrophy and extended survival in these N171-82Q HD mice. Moreover, 4'-DMA-7,8-DHF preserved DARPP32 levels in the striatum and rescued mutant huntingtin- induced impairment of neurogenesis in the N171-82Q HD mice. These data highlight consideration of TrkB as a therapeutic target in HD and suggest that small-molecule TrkB agonists that penetrate the brain have high potential to be further tested in clinical trials of HD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2462-2470
Number of pages9
JournalHuman molecular genetics
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Small-molecule TrKB receptor agonists improve motor function and extend survival in a mouse model of huntington's disease'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this