Ph.D. Univ. of Massachusetts
Huntington’s disease (HD) is caused by an abnormal CAG expansion in the exon 1 of huntingtin gene. The treatment of HD is an unmet medical need. Given the important role of adenosine in modulating brain activity, in this study, levels of adenosine and adenine nucleotides in the cerebral spinal fluid of patients with HD and in the brain of two mouse models of HD (R6/2 and Hdh150Q) were analysed. The expression and activity of ENT1 in the striatum of mice with HD were measured. Targeting adenosine tone for treating HD was examined in R6/2 mice by genetic removal of ENT1 and by giving an ENT1 inhibitor, respectively. The results showed that the adenosine homeostasis is dysregulated in the brain of patients and mice with HD. In patients, the ratio of adenosine/ATP in the cerebral spinal fluid was negatively correlated with the disease duration, and tended to have a positive correlation with independence scale and functional capacity. In comparison to controls, mRNA level of ENT1 was higher in the striatum of R6/2 and Hdh150Q mice. Intrastriatal administration of ENT1 inhibitors increased extracellular level of adenosine in the striatum of R6/2 mice to a much higher level than controls. Chronic inhibition of ENT1 or by genetic removal of ENT1 enhanced the survival of R6/2 mice. Collectively, adenosine homeostasis and ENT1 expression are altered in HD. The inhibition of ENT1 can enhance extracellular adenosine level and be a potential therapeutic approach for treating HD.