Striatal pre-enkephalin overexpression improves Huntington's disease symptoms in the R6/2 mouse model of Huntington's disease.

TitleStriatal pre-enkephalin overexpression improves Huntington's disease symptoms in the R6/2 mouse model of Huntington's disease.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuteursBissonnette, S, Vaillancourt, M, Hébert, SS, Drolet, G, Samadi, P
JournalPLoS One
Date Published2013
KeywordsAnimals, Behavior, Animal, Corpus Striatum, Disease Models, Animal, Enkephalins, Female, Gene Expression Regulation, Genetic Vectors, Globus Pallidus, Green Fluorescent Proteins, Huntingtin Protein, Huntington Disease, Male, Maze Learning, Mice, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Mice, Transgenic, Nerve Tissue Proteins, Neurons, Nuclear Proteins, Receptors, Opioid, RNA, Messenger, Substantia Nigra

The reduction of pre-enkephalin (pENK) mRNA expression might be an early sign of striatal neuronal dysfunction in Huntington's disease (HD), due to mutated huntingtin protein. Indeed, striatopallidal (pENK-containing) neurodegeneration occurs at earlier stage of the disease, compare to the loss of striatonigral neurons. However, no data are available about the functional role of striatal pENK in HD. According to the neuroprotective properties of opioids that have been recognized recently, the objective of this study was to investigate whether striatal overexpression of pENK at early stage of HD can improve motor dysfunction, and/or reduce striatal neuronal loss in the R6/2 transgenic mouse model of HD. To achieve this goal recombinant adeno-associated-virus (rAAV2)-containing green fluorescence protein (GFP)-pENK was injected bilaterally in the striatum of R6/2 mice at 5 weeks old to overexpress opioid peptide pENK. Striatal injection of rAAV2-GFP was used as a control. Different behavioral tests were carried out before and/or after striatal injections of rAAV2. The animals were euthanized at 10 weeks old. Our results demonstrate that striatal overexpression of pENK had beneficial effects on behavioral symptoms of HD in R6/2 by: delaying the onset of decline in muscular force; reduction of clasping; improvement of fast motor activity, short-term memory and recognition; as well as normalization of anxiety-like behavior. The improvement of behavioral dysfunction in R6/2 mice having received rAAV2-GFP-pENK associated with upregulation of striatal pENK mRNA; the increased level of enkephalin peptide in the striatum, globus pallidus and substantia nigra; as well as the slight increase in the number of striatal neurons compared with other groups of R6/2. Accordingly, we suggest that at early stage of HD upregulation of striatal enkephalin might play a key role at attenuating illness symptoms.

Alternate JournalPLoS ONE
PubMed ID24040390
PubMed Central IDPMC3770591