- Inherited neurodegenerative disease characterized by progressive motor and psychiatric dysfunction, dementia, and ultimately death
- Onset of symptoms typically occurs between 30 and 50 years.
- By the time of diagnosis, patients have often passed the disease to another generation.
- Currently incurable
- Adult (most common) and juvenile forms exist.
- System(s) affected: nervous
- Synonym(s): Huntington chorea; chronic progressive hereditary chorea
- Significant morbidity with early mortality
- Typical life expectancy is 15 to 25 years after symptom onset.
- Affects individuals of all ages
- High risk of suicide, with greatest risk corresponding to loss of function
- Juvenile form (Westphal variant), 6–8% of cases
- Onset prior to age 21 years
- Usually a hypokinetic disorder with parkinsonian features
- Rapid progression
- Trinucleotide cytosine-adenine-guanine (CAG) repeat expansion
- Length of repeat is inversely associated with, but is not an accurate predictor of, age of onset.
- Typically, 100% penetrance
- Autosomal dominant, juvenile form is typically paternally inherited; otherwise, equal paternal and maternal inheritance pattern
- Predominant age: onset typically 30 to 50 years but can occur at any age
- Predominant sex: male = female
- 1.8 to 4.7 per million per year
- 6–8% of cases are sporadic.
- Estimates range from 4 to 10/100,000 in North America.
- Estimates variable internationally due to populations expressing founder effect, notably certain regions of Venezuela, Scotland, and Tasmania
- Rare in Norway, Finland, and Japan
- Mean onset of motor symptoms among African Americans is 36 years and 42 years in whites.
Etiology and Pathophysiology
Associated with a CAG trinucleotide repeat expansion of the huntingtin gene (HTT) on the short arm of chromosome 4 (4p16.3) causing a toxic gain-of-function mutation
- The gene encodes the protein huntingtin, which plays a role in neural development and neurodegeneration and is conserved across species. Pathologically, it becomes cross-linked and accumulates, producing neuronal intranuclear inclusions.
- RAS homologue enriched in striatum (Rhes) may be involved in the pathogenesis and neuronal toxicity by binding to abnormal huntingtin, but its role in Huntington disease (HD) remains controversial.
- Autosomal dominant inheritance
- Expansion of CAG trinucleotide repeats in the HD (HTT/IT15) gene on chromosome 4p16.3.
- >40 show complete penetrance.
- 36 to 39 show reduced penetrance.
- 29 to 35 unstable range with possible expansion in future generations
- Paternal transmission shows greater expansion and stronger anticipation.
- Repeat length inversely correlated with age of onset but has not been consistently associated with disease progression
Genetic pre- and postcounseling, as well as complete psychiatric and neurologic evaluations, are recommended for asymptomatic individuals at risk for inheritance.
Commonly Associated Conditions
Similar diseases include the following:
- Huntington disease–like 1 (HDL-1): chromosome 20, prion disease
- Huntington disease–like 2 (HDL-2): chromosome 16, also CAG repeat; junctophilin 3 gene
- Huntington disease–like 3 (HDL-3): chromosome 4, autosomal recessive, single family reported
- Huntington disease–like 4 (HDL-4): also known as spinocerebellar-ataxia type 17 (SCA17)
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Domino, Frank J., et al., editors. "Huntington Disease." 5-Minute Clinical Consult, 27th ed., Wolters Kluwer, 2020. Medicine Central, im.unboundmedicine.com/medicine/view/5-Minute-Clinical-Consult/816188/all/Huntington_Disease.
Huntington Disease. In: Domino FJF, Baldor RAR, Golding JJ, et al, eds. 5-Minute Clinical Consult. Wolters Kluwer; 2020. https://im.unboundmedicine.com/medicine/view/5-Minute-Clinical-Consult/816188/all/Huntington_Disease. Accessed June 9, 2023.
Huntington Disease. (2020). In Domino, F. J., Baldor, R. A., Golding, J., & Stephens, M. B. (Eds.), 5-Minute Clinical Consult (27th ed.). Wolters Kluwer. https://im.unboundmedicine.com/medicine/view/5-Minute-Clinical-Consult/816188/all/Huntington_Disease
Huntington Disease [Internet]. In: Domino FJF, Baldor RAR, Golding JJ, Stephens MBM, editors. 5-Minute Clinical Consult. Wolters Kluwer; 2020. [cited 2023 June 09]. Available from: https://im.unboundmedicine.com/medicine/view/5-Minute-Clinical-Consult/816188/all/Huntington_Disease.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - ELEC T1 - Huntington Disease ID - 816188 ED - Domino,Frank J, ED - Baldor,Robert A, ED - Golding,Jeremy, ED - Stephens,Mark B, BT - 5-Minute Clinical Consult, Updating UR - https://im.unboundmedicine.com/medicine/view/5-Minute-Clinical-Consult/816188/all/Huntington_Disease PB - Wolters Kluwer ET - 27 DB - Medicine Central DP - Unbound Medicine ER -