Can Antihistamines Slow Huntington’s Disease Progression?

by Lauren Taylor from In The Cloud Copy

Huntington’s disease is an inherited disease that slowly causes the breakdown of the nerve cells of the brain, resulting in various disorders of movement and cognition as well as some psychological conditions. Huntington’s disease is caused by a defect that is inherited on a single gene.

Symptoms of Huntington’s disease can develop at any time in a person’s life, but typically appear when an affected individual is in their 30’s or 40’s.  If symptoms develop before the age of 20, it’s called juvenile Huntington’s disease, and symptoms and progression may be different.

Symptoms vary greatly from person to person but can include things such as involuntary jerking or writhing movements, abnormal eye movements, difficulty with speech and/or swallowing, impaired gait and balance, difficulty focusing on tasks, lack of flexibility, lack of impulse control, difficulties in learning new information, insomnia, fatigue and energy loss, social withdrawal, and more.

While there is currently no cure for Huntington’s disease, there are many approved medications to help manage the symptoms associated with it. Some of these medications include drugs to help with movement disorders such as Xenazine and Austedo, antipsychotic drugs such as Haldol, and other mood-stabilizing and antidepressant medications.

Antihistamines and Huntington’s Disease

Scientists studying Huntington’s disease have found that antihistamines may be incredibly useful in the treatment of the progression of this terminal disease.

What they already know is that in Huntington’s disease, the dopamine signaling goes away and eventually leads to brain-cell death. In a study of a mouse model of the illness, it was found that the mice at two- and four-months-old were both asymptomatic and have the D1 receptor (D1R)-H3R complex.  When looking at mice just a bit older (6-8 months) that also have Huntington’s disease, the complexes were lost and the mice were now symptomatic.

The team of scientists tested their theory of the effect of antihistamines by administering thioperamide. The mice that were treated with the thioperamide showed similar coordination and balance compared to mice that did not have Huntington’s disease (falling at about the same rate). In testing memory, it was found that the mice treated with the thioperamide did not show memory deficits, while those administered saline did show memory deficits when showed familiar objects.

Next, the team discovered through brain tissue samples that the treated mice still had the D1R-H3R complexes at both six and eight months, while the untreated mice did not. Further, in the mice that had reached seven months of age and had not yet been treated, memory, movement, and learning did not appear to be affected by the administration of the thioperamide. This further proves the theory that the D1R-H3R complexes must be present for the protective effects of the medication to work. If the D1R-H3R complexes are already absent, then the thioperamide is useless.

Similar findings were found when the human brain was examined, looking particularly for the D1R-H3R complexes.  In early stages of the disease, the complexes are present, and in later stages of the disease, the complexes are near absent.

This research and data is a breakthrough in the fight against Huntington’s disease. If caught at an early enough stage where the D1R-H3R complexes are still present, the administration of a simple antihistamine could greatly slow the rate at which the disease progresses, leading to a better quality of life for those affected.

Check out the study here.

Find the source article here.

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