Huntington's disease (HD) patients suffer from a progressive neurodegeneration that results in cognitive, psychiatric, cardiovascular, and motor dysfunction. Disturbances in sleep/wake cycles are common among HD patients with reports of delayed sleep onset, frequent bedtime awakenings, and fatigue during the day. The heterozygous Q175 mouse model of HD has been shown to phenocopy many HD core symptoms including circadian dysfunctions. Because circadian dysfunction manifests early in the disease in both patients and mouse models, we sought to determine if early intervention that improve circadian rhythmicity can benefit HD and delay disease progression. We determined the effects of time-restricted feeding (TRF) on the Q175 mouse model. At six months of age, the animals were divided into two groups: ad libitum (ad lib) and TRF. The TRF-treated Q175 mice were exposed to a 6-h feeding/18-h fasting regimen that was designed to be aligned with the middle of the time when mice are normally active. After three months of treatment (when mice reached the early disease stage), the TRF-treated Q175 mice showed improvements in their locomotor activity rhythm and sleep awakening time. Furthermore, we found improved heart rate variability (HRV), suggesting that their autonomic nervous system dysfunction was improved. Importantly, treated Q175 mice exhibited improved motor performance compared to untreated Q175 controls, and the motor improvements were correlated with improved circadian output. Finally, we found that the expression of several HD-relevant markers was restored to WT levels in the striatum of the treated mice using NanoString gene expression assays.
Keywords: Huntington’s disease; Q175; circadian rhythms; fast/feed cycle; time-restricted feeding.