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Cell Death Differ. 2006 Dec;13(12):2068-78. Epub 2006 May 26.

Increased apoptosis, Huntingtin inclusions and altered differentiation in muscle cell cultures from Huntington's disease subjects.

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Department of Neurology and Laboratory of Neuroscience, Dino Ferrari Center, University of Milan Medical School, IRCCS Istituto Auxologico Italiano, Milan, Italy.


Mutated huntingtin (htt) is ubiquitously expressed in tissues of Huntington's disease (HD) patients. In the brain, the mutated protein leads to neuronal cell dysfunction and death, associated with formation of htt-positive inclusions. Given increasing evidence of abnormalities in HD skeletal muscle, we extensively analyzed primary muscle cell cultures from seven HD subjects (including two unaffected mutation carriers). Myoblasts from presymptomatic and symptomatic HD subjects showed cellular abnormalities in vitro, namely mitochondrial depolarization, cytochrome c release, increased caspase-3, -8, and -9 activities, and defective cell differentiation. Another notable feature was the formation of htt inclusions in differentiated myotubes. This study helps to advance current knowledge about the downstream effects of the htt mutation in human tissues. Further applications may include drug screening using this human cellular model.

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