Researcher discovers commonalities in brains of people with HD and PD

January 12, 2018, Boston University School of Medicine

A new study strongly suggests that the brains of people who have died of Huntington's disease (HD) and Parkinson's disease (PD) show a similar response to a lifetime of neurodegeneration, despite being two very distinct diseases.

The findings, which appear in the journal Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience, found that most of the perturbed in brains from both diseases are related to the same immune response and . Inflammation in the central nervous system has recently been shown to play a role in a number of different neurodegenerative diseases, including HD and PD, but this is the first direct comparison of these two distinct diseases.

Brains of individuals who died with Huntington's, Parkinson's or no neurological condition were analyzed using sequencing technology that provides a data readout of the activity of all genes in the genome. By comparing the data from the different groups, the researchers identified which genes show differences in their activity. By organizing and interpreting these genes, the researchers found an overall pattern of commonality between the two diseases. According to the researchers, the hypothesis that the brain experiences a similar response to disparate neurodegenerative diseases has exciting clinical implications. "These findings suggest that a common therapy might be developed to help mitigate the effects of different neurodegenerative diseases of the central nervous system" explained corresponding author Adam Labadorf, PhD, Director of the BU Bioinformatics Hub.

"Though no such treatment yet exists, this finding will lead to experiments to better understand the specific mechanisms of the in the neurodegenerating brain, which may in turn lead to new treatments."

Labadorf believes that at present, these findings are too preliminary to suggest new clinical treatments. However, as many anti-inflammatory drugs are already available, there may be a relatively short path to designing clinical trials for drugs that modulate the inflammatory in people with neurodegenerative disease.

"While these findings are specific to HD and PD, these two diseases are sufficiently distinct to suggest that the observed pattern of differential gene activity may likely be observed in other of the central nervous system, including Alzheimer's and Chronic Traumatic Encephalophathy (CTE)."

Explore further: Inflammation drives progression of Alzheimer's

More information: Adam Labadorf et al. Evidence for a Pan-Neurodegenerative Disease Response in Huntington's and Parkinson's Disease Expression Profiles, Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience (2018). DOI: 10.3389/fnmol.2017.00430

Related Stories

Inflammation drives progression of Alzheimer's

December 21, 2017
According to a study published in the journal Nature by scientists of the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) and the University of Bonn, inflammatory mechanisms caused by the brain's immune system drive the ...

Existing cancer medication offers potential to treat Huntington's disease

December 6, 2017
A drug already used to treat certain forms of cancer may also be an effective therapy for Huntington's disease, according to a new study in the latest issue of Science Translational Medicine. The same study also increases ...

Researchers find molecular trigger for brain inflammation

April 27, 2017
Brain inflammation is a key component of multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, ALS, and most other major neurodegenerative diseases. How inflammation starts, how it's sustained, and how it contributes to these diseases ...

Progranulin and dementia—a blood sample does not tell the full story!

May 26, 2016
Progranulin is a central protein in both neuronal survival and neurodegenerative diseases. It is thus not surprising that altered progranulin levels represent a universal theme shared across several common neurodegenerative ...

Scientists identify molecular system that could help develop potential treatments for neurodegenerative diseases

February 21, 2013
Scientists from the University of Southampton have identified the molecular system that contributes to the harmful inflammatory reaction in the brain during neurodegenerative diseases.

New insight into how brain cells die in Alzheimer's disease and frontotemporal dementia

October 9, 2017
Removal of a regulatory gene called LSD1 in adult mice induces changes in gene activity that that look unexpectedly like Alzheimer's disease, scientists have discovered.

Recommended for you

How the brain makes rapid, fine adjustments in motor activity

October 18, 2018
Short-term motor learning appears not to require physical change in the brain Brain's premotor cortex may use a 'neural scratch pad' to calculate fine adjustments Brain can try different things in simulation without 'screwing ...

Electrical properties of dendrites help explain our brain's unique computing power

October 18, 2018
Neurons in the human brain receive electrical signals from thousands of other cells, and long neural extensions called dendrites play a critical role in incorporating all of that information so the cells can respond appropriately.

Brain cells called astrocytes have unexpected role in brain 'plasticity'

October 18, 2018
When we're born, our brains have a great deal of flexibility. Having this flexibility to grow and change gives the immature brain the ability to adapt to new experiences and organize its interconnecting web of neural circuits. ...

Weight loss success linked with active self-control regions of the brain

October 18, 2018
New research suggests that higher-level brain functions have a major role in losing weight. In a study among 24 participants at a weight-loss clinic, those who achieved greatest success in terms of weight loss demonstrated ...

Study pinpoints what makes human neurons unique

October 18, 2018
Human neurons are much larger than those of model organisms mice and rats, so it's been unclear whether it's size that makes a difference in our brain's computational power. Now, in a study appearing October 18 in the journal ...

New causative gene found in severe childhood epilepsy

October 18, 2018
A large international research team has discovered a new genetic cause for a severe, difficult-to-treat childhood epilepsy syndrome. Spontaneous mutations in one gene disrupt the flow of calcium in brain cells, resulting ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.