A 24-hour study of the Hypothalamo-pituitary axes in Huntington's disease

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Abstract

Background Huntington's disease is an inherited neurodegenerative disorder characterised by motor, cognitive and psychiatric disturbances. Patients exhibit other symptoms including sleep and mood disturbances, muscle atrophy and weight loss which may be linked to hypothalamic pathology and dysfunction of hypothalamo-pituitary axes. Methods We studied neuroendocrine profiles of corticotropic, somatotropic and gonadotropic hypothalamo-pituitary axes hormones over a 24-hour period in controlled environment in 15 healthy controls, 14 premanifest and 13 stage II/III Huntington's disease subjects.We also quantified fasting levels of vasopressin, oestradiol, testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate, thyroid stimulating hormone, free triiodothyronine, free total thyroxine, prolactin, adrenaline and noradrenaline. Somatotropic axis hormones, growth hormone releasing hormone, insulin-like growth factor-1 and insulin-like factor binding protein-3 were quantified at 06:00 (fasting), 15:00 and 23:00. A battery of clinical tests, including neurological rating and function scales were performed. Results 24-hour concentrations of adrenocorticotropic hormone, cortisol, luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone did not differ significantly between the Huntington's disease group and controls. Daytime growth hormone secretion was similar in control and Huntington's disease subjects. Stage II/III Huntington's disease subjects had lower concentration of post-sleep growth hormone pulse and higher insulin-like growth factor-1:growth hormone ratio which did not reach significance. In Huntington's disease subjects, baseline levels of hypothalamo-pituitary axis hormones measured did not significantly differ from those of healthy controls. Conclusions The relatively small subject group means that the study may not detect subtle perturbations in hormone concentrations. A targeted study of the somatotropic axis in larger cohorts may be warranted. However, the lack of significant results despite many variables being tested does imply that the majority of them do not differ substantially between HD and controls.

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Kalliolia, E., Silajdžic, E., Nambron, R., Costelloe, S. J., Martin, N. G., Hill, N. R., … Warner, T. T. (2015). A 24-hour study of the Hypothalamo-pituitary axes in Huntington’s disease. PLoS ONE, 10(10). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0138848

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