Huntington’s disease (HD) is a devastating, genetic neurodegenerative disease caused by a tri-nucleotide expansion in exon 1 of the huntingtin gene. HD is clinically characterized by chorea, emotional and psychiatric disturbances and cognitive deficits with later symptoms including rigidity and dementia. Pathologically, the cortico-striatal pathway is severely dysfunctional as reflected by striatal and cortical atrophy in late-stage disease. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a neuroprotective, secreted protein that binds with high affinity to the extracellular domain of the tropomyosin-receptor kinase B (TrkB) receptor promoting neuronal cell survival by activating the receptor and down-stream signaling proteins. Reduced cortical BDNF production and transport to the striatum have been implicated in HD pathogenesis; the ability to enhance TrkB signaling using a BDNF mimetic might be beneficial in disease progression, so we explored this as a therapeutic strategy for HD. Using recombinant and native assay formats, we report here the evaluation of TrkB antibodies and a panel of reported small molecule TrkB agonists, and identify the best candidate, from those tested, for in vivo proof of concept studies in transgenic HD models.
Source: PLOS ONE