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Eur J Neurosci. 2019 Jan;49(1):79-93. doi: 10.1111/ejn.14283. Epub 2018 Dec 10.

Striatal GABAergic interneuron dysfunction in the Q175 mouse model of Huntington's disease.

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Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, Brain Research Institute, UCLA, Los Angeles, California.


The pathological hallmark of Huntington's disease (HD) is the massive loss of striatal and cortical neurons. Until recently, it was believed that striatal interneurons were spared from degeneration. This view has changed after the demonstration that parvalbumin (PV)-expressing interneurons also are vulnerable in humans. Here we compared morphological and functional changes of striatal fast-spiking interneurons (FSIs) and low-threshold spiking (LTS) interneurons in the Q175 mouse model of HD at presymptomatic (2 months) and symptomatic (12 months) stages of the disease. Electrophysiological intrinsic and synaptic properties of FSIs were significantly altered in symptomatic mice compared to wild-type (WT) littermates. Overall, FSIs became more excitable with disease progression. Sholl analysis also revealed a significant loss of dendritic complexity and excitatory synaptic inputs. The basic membrane and synaptic properties of LTS interneurons were similar in Q175 and WT mice regardless of disease stage. The resilience of LTS interneurons could be related to their sparsity of excitatory synaptic inputs compared with FSIs. However, in symptomatic mice, a subpopulation of LTS interneurons displayed an increase in action potential firing within oscillating bursts. Thus, we conclude that while both FSI and LTS interneurons demonstrate increases in excitability, the HD mutation differentially affects their membrane and synaptic properties as well as their ability to respond to compensatory challenges presented during the late stage of the disease. Alterations in GABAergic interneuron intrinsic activity and responsiveness to incoming signals may significantly affect SPN output thus contributing to abnormal motor movements in patients afflicted with HD.


GABA interneurons; HD; electrophysiology; striatum


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