Mitochondrial Abnormalities and Synaptic Damage in Huntington’s Disease: a Focus on Defective Mitophagy and Mitochondria-Targeted Therapeutics

Neha Sawant, Hallie Morton, Sudhir Kshirsagar, Arubala P. Reddy, P. Hemachandra Reddy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Huntington’s disease (HD) is a fatal and pure genetic disease with a progressive loss of medium spiny neurons (MSN). HD is caused by expanded polyglutamine repeats in the exon 1 of HD gene. Clinically, HD is characterized by chorea, seizures, involuntary movements, dystonia, cognitive decline, intellectual impairment, and emotional disturbances. Several years of intense research revealed that multiple cellular changes, including defective axonal transport, protein-protein interactions, defective bioenergetics, calcium dyshomeostasis, NMDAR activation, synaptic damage, mitochondrial abnormalities, and selective loss of medium spiny neurons are implicated in HD. Recent research on mutant huntingtin (mHtt) and mitochondria has found that mHtt interacts with the mitochondrial division protein, dynamin-related protein 1 (DRP1), enhances GTPase DRP1 enzymatic activity, and causes excessive mitochondrial fragmentation and abnormal distribution, leading to defective axonal transport of mitochondria and selective synaptic degeneration. Recent research also revealed that failure to remove dead and/or dying mitochondria is an early event in the disease progression. Currently, efforts are being made to reduce abnormal protein interactions and enhance synaptic mitophagy as therapeutic strategies for HD. The purpose of this article is to discuss recent research in HD progression. This article also discusses recent developments of cell and mouse models, cellular changes, mitochondrial abnormalities, DNA damage, bioenergetics, oxidative stress, mitophagy, and therapeutics strategies in HD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6350-6377
Number of pages28
JournalMolecular Neurobiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Huntington’s disease
  • Mitochondria-targeted therapies
  • Mitochondrial abnormalities
  • Mitophagy
  • Mutant huntingtin
  • Polyglutamine repeat expansion


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