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Huntington's disease (HD) is an autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disease that leads to progressive motor impairments with no available disease-modifying treatment. Current evidence indicates that exacerbated postsynaptic glutamate signaling in the striatum plays a key role in the pathophysiology of HD. However, it remains unclear whether reducing glutamate release can be an effective approach to slow the progression of HD. Here, we show that the activation of metabotropic glutamate receptors 2 and 3 (mGluR2/3), which inhibit presynaptic glutamate release, improves HD symptoms and pathology in heterozygous zQ175 knockin mice. Treatment of both male and female zQ175 mice with the potent and selective mGluR2/3 agonist LY379268 for either 4 or 8 weeks improves both limb coordination and locomotor function in all mice. LY379268 also reduces mutant huntingtin aggregate formation, neuronal cell death, and microglial activation in the striatum of both male and female zQ175 mice. The reduction in mutant huntingtin aggregates correlates with the activation of a glycogen synthase kinase 3β-dependent autophagy pathway in male, but not female, zQ175 mice. Furthermore, LY379268 reduces both Akt and ERK1/2 phosphorylation in male zQ175 mice but increases both Akt and ERK1/2 phosphorylation in female zQ175 mice. Taken together, our results indicate that mGluR2/3 activation mitigates HD neuropathology in both male and female mice but is associated with the differential activation and inactivation of cell signaling pathways in heterozygous male and female zQ175 mice. This further highlights the need to take sex into consideration when developing future HD therapeutics. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: The mGluR2/3 agonist LY379268 improves motor impairments and reduces pathology in male and female zQ175 Huntington's disease mice. The beneficial outcomes of LY379268 treatment in Huntington's disease mice were mediated by divergent cell signaling pathways in both sexes. We provide evidence that mGluR2/3 agonists can be repurposed for the treatment of Huntington's disease, and we emphasize the importance of investigating sex as a biological variable in preclinical disease-modifying studies. Copyright © 2021 by The American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.


Si Han Li, Tash-Lynn L Colson, Khaled S Abd-Elrahman, Stephen S G Ferguson. Metabotropic Glutamate Receptor 2/3 Activation Improves Motor Performance and Reduces Pathology in Heterozygous zQ175 Huntington Disease Mice. The Journal of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics. 2021 Oct;379(1):74-84

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PMID: 34330748

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