Huntington Disease

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Huntington Disease

Huntington Disease (HD) is a degenerative brain disorder that is
inherited. One of the earlier names for Huntington Disease was
choreography, the Greek word for dance. The word chorea describes how
people with this disorder would twist, turn constantly and their
uncontrollable dance-like motions. A lot of other names have been known in
the past for Huntington Disease also. In 1872 George Huntington, an
American physician wrote about this disease saying, “an heirloom from
generations away back in the dim past.” Later Huntington Disease was named
after George Huntington.

The signs of HD are usually very gradual. They can go unnoticed for
years. The symptoms vary according to the size of the expansion of the HD
gene, the larger the HD gene the earlier in life symptoms begin to show.

The signs and symptoms vary from person to person, in one person symptoms
could be higher in one area and lower in another. Symptoms include
movement disorder, cognitive disorder and psychiatric disorder. Movement
disorder includes things like fidgetiness or a nervous restlessness that
evolve to abnormal movements that are hard to control. Cognitive disorder
causes difficulty in mental flexibility; it makes it hard for the person to
switch tasks quickly. It also could make it hard for them to learn new
information. The psychiatric disorder in HD includes depression, anxiety,
obsessive ness, irritability, social withdrawal, impulsiveness, and trouble
initiating activity. In some cases it could include aggressive outburst or

HD is an inherited disease. The impact of the gene depends on
whether it is dominate or recessive. If the gene is dominate then only one
of the paired chromosomes is required for the effect. If the gene is
recessive then both parents must provide chromosomal copies for the trait
to be present. HD is an autosomal chromosome. In individuals with HD, one
gene of this gene pair (the HD gene) is not functioning correctly and
dominates the other working gene. Since it is not on one of the sex
chromosomes, it can affect both males and females. Males and females have
the same chance of having affected children. Each child with a defected
parent has a 50% chance of having Hunting disease. However, with
increasing age and no symptoms the likelihood of getting the disease
decreases to less than 50%. The gene for Huntington Disease is found on the
fourth chromosome. Part of the sequence of nucleotides is CAG (cytosine,
adenine, and guanine); normally the sequence is duplicated up to 26 times
in an individual. In HD trinucleotide repeat occurs which is when the
sequence CAG is repeated over and over again. People with Huntington
Disease may have the sequence repeated anywhere from 40 to over 100 times.

The effects of HD on humans can include things like the individual
experiences mood swings or becomes uncharacteristically irritable,
apathetic, passive, depressed, or angry. HD can affect the individual’s
judgment, memory, and other cognitive functions. Early signs could be
having trouble driving, having a hard time learning new things, remembering
things, problems answering questions, or troubles making a decision. Some
may even display changes in handwriting. As the disease progresses,
concentration on intellectual tasks becomes increasingly difficult.

Treatment for HD can be divided into two categories: the ones for
treating symptoms of the disease and the ones that slow down the
progression of the disease. There are currently no treatments for the
disease but there are clinical trials in process aiming in the two
categories. Medications can be prescribed but must be used with caution.

It can cause severe side affects for people and medication changes
depending on what stage of the disease they are in, so it should be checked

In conclusion Huntington Disease has many different symptoms, and
many effects on humans. It is located on the fourth chromosome and is on
an autosomal chromosome. HD has no current treatments but medications can
be prescribed to help with the affects of HD and research is still going to
try and find treatments for HD.