Nat Neurosci 2014 Aug 13;17(8):1064-72. Epub 2014 Jul 13.
Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, Basel, Switzerland.
In Huntington's disease (HD), whether transneuronal spreading of mutant huntingtin (mHTT) occurs and its contribution to non-cell autonomous damage in brain networks is largely unknown. We found mHTT spreading in three different neural network models: human neurons integrated in the neural network of organotypic brain slices of HD mouse model, an ex vivo corticostriatal slice model and the corticostriatal pathway in vivo. Transneuronal propagation of mHTT was blocked by two different botulinum neurotoxins, each known for specifically inactivating a single critical component of the synaptic vesicle fusion machinery. Moreover, healthy human neurons in HD mouse model brain slices displayed non-cell autonomous changes in morphological integrity that were more pronounced when these neurons bore mHTT aggregates. Altogether, our findings suggest that transneuronal propagation of mHTT might be an important and underestimated contributor to the pathophysiology of HD.