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FASEB J. 2003 Nov;17(14):2148-50. Epub 2003 Sep 4.

Aberrant A2A receptor function in peripheral blood cells in Huntington's disease.

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Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Pharmacology Unit, University of Ferrara, Italy.


A2A adenosine receptors specifically found on striatal medium spiny neurons play a major role in sensory motor function and may also be involved in neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders. One hypothesis concerning Huntington's disease (HD) proposes that an imbalance of the cortico-striatal pathway, due to the mutation in the HD gene, leads to striatal vulnerability. An A2A receptor dysfunction has been previously demonstrated in striatal cells engineered to express mutant huntingtin. Here we tested whether a similar dysfunction (i.e., the binding and functional parameters of A2A adenosine receptors) is present in peripheral blood cells (platelets, lymphocytes, and neutrophils) of subjects carrying the mutant gene. This study involved 48 heterozygous and three homozygous patients compared with 58 healthy subjects. Moreover, we selected seven at-risk mutation carriers. A2A receptor density and function are substantially increased in peripheral blood cells from both patients and subjects at the presymptomatic stage. In the neutrophils of the three homozygous HD subjects receptor dysfunction was higher than in heterozygotes. These data indicate the existence of an aberrant A2A receptor phenotype in the peripheral blood cells of subjects carrying the HD mutation. Future studies will assess whether this parameter can be exploited as a peripheral biomarker of Huntington's disease.

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