Wild-type huntingtin regulates human macrophage function

Sci Rep. 2020 Oct 14;10(1):17269. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-74042-8.


The huntingtin (HTT) protein in its mutant form is the cause of the inherited neurodegenerative disorder, Huntington's disease. Beyond its effects in the central nervous system, disease-associated mutant HTT causes aberrant phenotypes in myeloid-lineage innate immune system cells, namely monocytes and macrophages. Whether the wild-type form of the protein, however, has a role in normal human macrophage function has not been determined. Here, the effects of lowering the expression of wild-type (wt)HTT on the function of primary monocyte-derived macrophages from healthy, non-disease human subjects were examined. This demonstrated a previously undescribed role for wtHTT in maintaining normal macrophage health and function. Lowered wtHTT expression was associated, for instance, with a diminished release of induced cytokines, elevated phagocytosis and increased vulnerability to cellular stress. These may well occur by mechanisms different to that associated with the mutant form of the protein, given an absence of any effect on the intracellular signalling pathway predominantly associated with macrophage dysfunction in Huntington's disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Humans
  • Huntingtin Protein / genetics
  • Huntingtin Protein / immunology*
  • Macrophages / immunology*
  • Phagocytosis


  • Cytokines
  • HTT protein, human
  • Huntingtin Protein