Huntington’s Disease

Huntington’s Disease
Huntington’s disease is a genetic disease that causes degeneration of the nerve cells within the brain.   Unfortunately, at this time there is not cure for the disease.   This disease was discovered in 1872 by Dr. George Huntington.   Hence, this is why the disease was named after him.   Huntington’s disease is one of the more tragic movement disorders because it does not show symptoms until later in life (late 50’s or later), and if a parent has this disease the child is 50% more likely to acquire the disease.
Structure(s) Involved in Huntington’s Disease
Huntington’s disease is produced by a genomic deficiency in the chromosomes.   According to PubMed (2011):
The defect causes a part of DNA, called a CAG repeat, to occur many more times than it is supposed to. Normally, this section of DNA is repeated 10 to 28 times. But in persons with Huntington's disease, it is repeated 36 to 120 times.
The cells that are affected are in the basal ganglia, which are structures deep inside the brain that control synchronizing movement.   In the basal ganglia, Huntington’s disease targets the neurons of the striatum, generally those in the caudate nuclei and the pallidum (Mollersen, Rowe, Larsen, Rognes, & Klungland, 2011).   The brain's cortex is also agitated, which controls cognitive reasoning, insight, and recollection.

Neurotransmitter System(s) Involved in Huntington’s Disease
The main neurotransmitters involved in Huntington’s disease are: dopamine, glutamate, and GABA.   Dopamine controls thinking, hormone secretion, and “has been implicated in the control of emotions and feelings of pleasure and euphoria” (Wilson, 2012).   In Parkinson’s disease dopamine is lacking, and in Huntington’s disease dopamine is malfunctioning.   This malfunctioning causes the body to jerk and move irrepressibly.
Glutamate is an amino acid neurotransmitter.   “Unfortunately, because amino acids are found inside all cells in the body, scientists overlooked their...