Neurotrophin receptor p75NTR mediates Huntington’s disease–associated synaptic and memory dysfunction

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Learning and memory deficits are early clinical manifestations of Huntington’s disease (HD). These cognitive impairments have been mainly associated with frontostriatal HD pathology; however, compelling evidence provided by several HD murine models suggests that the hippocampus may contribute to synaptic deficits and memory dysfunction in HD. The neurotrophin receptor p75NTR negatively regulates spine density, which is associated with learning and memory; therefore, we explored whether disturbed p75NTR function in the hippocampus could contribute to synaptic dysfunction and memory deficits in HD. Here, we determined that levels of p75NTR are markedly increased in the hippocampus of 2 distinct mouse models of HD and in HD patients. Normalization of p75NTR levels in HD mutant mice heterozygous for p75NTR prevented memory and synaptic plasticity deficits and ameliorated dendritic spine abnormalities, likely through normalization of the activity of the GTPase RhoA. Moreover, viral-mediated overexpression of p75NTR in the hippocampus of WT mice reproduced HD learning and memory deficits, while knockdown of p75NTR in the hippocampus of HD mice prevented cognitive decline. Together, these findings provide evidence of hippocampus-associated memory deficits in HD and demonstrate that p75NTR mediates synaptic, learning, and memory dysfunction in HD.

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Source: American Society for Clinical Investigation

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