The Translational Neuroendocrine Research Unit (TNU) was formed in 2007.
The research group focuses on the neuropsychiatric Huntington’s disease, and studies molecular mechanisms in the interface to depression, dementia and obesity.
Huntington’s disease (HD) is a fatal neurodegenerative hereditary CAG triplet repeat disorder without a cure. It is clinically characterized by anxiety, depression, metabolic disturbances, chorea and dementia. Neuropathological changes include neuronal dysfunction, protein aggregates and cell death in the cerebral cortex, the striatum and the hypothalamus.
The pathogenic process in HD and the relationships between regional changes and the behavioral consequences are not known. As it is a monogenetic disorder, experimental models of the disease may provide useful tools to elucidate molecular mechanisms underlying psychiatric symptoms. Emerging studies suggest that neuroendocrine and hypothalamic changes in HD may 1) cause symptoms and signs such as anxiety, depression and metabolic disturbances, 2) provide biomarkers to track disease progression and severity, and 3) be involved in the pathogenic disease process.
Studies addressing these points using experimental models and material from patients with HD are ongoing in the research group. Techniques used in the laboratory include detailed testing of motor, cognitive, depressive-and anxiety-like behaviours, stereotactic surgery, gene targeting and disease modeling using adeno-associated viral vectors (AAV), immunohistochemistry, stereology, ELISA, RIA, Western blots, HPLC, RT-PCR as well as MRI analysis.
Tour of our lab made by HDYO (Huntington's Disease Youth Organization) in May 2013:
- HDYO videos (scroll down to research section)
Åsa Petersén lectures about HD and the hypothalamic studies in TNU for the general public at the Research Day in Nov 2010:
Åsa Petersén lectures about HD and the hypothalamic studies in TNU at the National Huntington Meeting in March 2013: