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Neurobiol Dis. 2007 Jun;26(3):512-20. Epub 2007 Jan 27.

Testicular degeneration in Huntington disease.

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Department of Medical Genetics, Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics, Child and Family Research Institute, University of British Columbia, 950 West 28th Ave., Vancouver, BC, Canada V5Z 4H4.


Huntington disease (HD) is an adult onset, neurodegenerative disorder that results from CAG expansion in the HD gene. Recent work has demonstrated testicular degeneration in mouse models of HD and alterations in the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis in HD patients. Here, we show that HD patients have specific testicular pathology with reduced numbers of germ cells and abnormal seminiferous tubule morphology. In the YAC128 mouse model, testicular degeneration develops prior to 12 months of age, but at 12 months, there is no evidence for decreased testosterone levels or loss of GnRH neurons in the hypothalamus. This suggests that testicular pathology results from a direct toxic effect of mutant huntingtin in the testis and is supported by the fact that huntingtin is highly expressed in the affected cell populations in the testis. Understanding the pathogenesis of HD in the testis may reveal common critical pathways which lead to degeneration in both the brain and testis.

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