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J Neurochem. 2016 Jun;137(5):782-94. doi: 10.1111/jnc.13553. Epub 2016 Apr 5.

Laquinimod dampens hyperactive cytokine production in Huntington's disease patient myeloid cells.

Author information

Department of Neurodegenerative Diseases, University College London, Institute of Neurology and National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, London, UK.
Now at German Cancer Research Centre, Immune Tolerance, Tumour Immunology Program, Heidelberg, Germany.
Department of Medical Statistics, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK.
Teva Pharmaceuticals, Research and Development, Netanya, Israel.


Huntington's disease (HD) is a neurodegenerative condition characterized by pathology in the brain and peripheral tissues. Hyperactivity of the innate immune system, due in part to NFκB pathway dysregulation, is an early and active component of HD. Evidence suggests targeting immune disruption may slow disease progression. Laquinimod is an orally active immunomodulator that down-regulates proinflammatory cytokine production in peripheral blood mononuclear cells, and in the brain down-regulates astrocytic and microglial activation by modulating NFκB signalling. Laquinimod had beneficial effects on inflammation, brain atrophy and disease progression in multiple sclerosis (MS) in two phase III clinical trials. This study investigated the effects of laquinimod on hyperactive proinflammatory cytokine release and NFκB signalling in HD patient myeloid cell cultures. Monocytes from manifest (manHD) and pre-manifest (preHD) HD gene carriers and healthy volunteers (HV) were treated with laquinimod and stimulated with lipopolysaccharide. After 24 h pre-treatment with 5 μM laquinimod, manHD monocytes released lower levels of IL-1β, IL-5, IL-8, IL-10, IL-13 and TNFα in response to stimulation. PreHD monocytes released lower levels of IL-8, IL-10 and IL-13, with no reduction observed in HV monocytes. The effects of laquinimod on dysfunctional NFκB signalling in HD was assessed by inhibitor of kappa B (IκB) degradation kinetics, nuclear translocation of NFκB and interactions between IκB kinase (IKK) and HTT, in HD myeloid cells. No differences were observed between laquinimod-treated and untreated conditions. These results provide evidence that laquinimod dampens hyper-reactive cytokine release from manHD and preHD monocytes, with a much reduced effect on HV monocytes. Evidence suggests targeting CNS and peripheral immune disruption may slow Huntington's disease (HD) neurodegenerative processes. The effects of laquinimod, an orally active immunomodulator, on hyperactive cytokine release and dysfunctional NFκB signalling in stimulated myeloid cell cultures from pre-manifest and manifest HD gene carriers and healthy volunteers were investigated. Laquinimod dampened cytokine release but did not impact NFκB signalling. Read the Editorial Highlight for this article on page 670.


Huntington's disease; NFκB; cytokines; inflammation; laquinimod; neurodegenerative disease

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