Proenkephalin Decreases in Cerebrospinal Fluid with Symptom Progression of Huntington’s Disease




Identifying molecular changes that contribute to the onset and progression of Huntington’s disease (HD) is of importance for the development and evaluation of potential therapies.


We conducted an unbiased mass‐spectrometry proteomic analysis on the cerebrospinal fluid of 12 manifest HD patients (ManHD), 13 pre‐manifest (preHD), and 38 controls. A biologically plausible and significant possible biomarker was validated in samples from a separate cohort of patients and controls consisting of 23 ManHD patients and 23 controls.


In ManHD compared to preHD, 10 proteins were downregulated and 43 upregulated. Decreased levels of proenkephalin (PENK) and transthyretin were closely linked to HD symptom severity, whereas levels of 15 upregulated proteins were associated with symptom severity. The decreased PENK levels were replicated in the separate cohort where absolute quantitation was performed.


We hypothesize that declining PENK levels reflect the degeneration of medium spiny neurons (MSNs) that produce PENK and that assays for PENK may serve as a surrogate marker for the state of MSNs in HD. © 2020 The Authors. Movement Disorders published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society


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