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Aberrant self-grooming as early marker of motor dysfunction in a rat model of Huntington's disease

ABSTRACT

In the study of neurodegenerative diseases, rodent models provide experimentally accessible systems to study multiple pathogenetic aspects. The identification of early and robust behavioural changes is crucial to monitoring disease progression and testing potential therapeutic strategies in animals. Consistent experimental data support the translational value of rodent self-grooming as index of disturbed motor functions and perseverative behaviour patterns in different rodent models of brain disorders. Huntington’s disease (HD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder, characterized by severe degeneration of basal ganglia, cognitive and psychiatric impairments and motor abnormalities. In the rat species, intrastriatal injection of the excitotoxin quinolinic acid (QA) mimics some of the neuroanatomical and behavioural changes found in HD, including the loss of GABAergic neurons and the appearance of motor and cognitive deficits.