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Nils Wierup

Nils Wierup

Senior lecturer

Nils Wierup

Orexin loss in Huntington's disease.


  • Åsa Petersén
  • Joana Gil
  • Marion L C Maat-Schieman
  • Maria Björkqvist
  • Heikki Tanila
  • Ines M Araújo
  • Ruben Smith
  • Natalija Popovic
  • Nils Wierup
  • Per Norlén
  • Jia-Yi Li
  • Raymund Ac Roos
  • Frank Sundler
  • Hindrik Mulder
  • Patrik Brundin

Summary, in English

Huntington's disease (HD) is a devastating neurodegenerative disorder caused by an expanded CAG repeat in the gene encoding huntingtin, a protein of unknown function. Mutant huntingtin forms intracellular aggregates and is associated with neuronal death in select brain regions. The most studied mouse model (R6/2) of HD replicates many features of the disease, but has been reported to exhibit only very little neuronal death. We describe for the first time a dramatic atrophy and loss of orexin neurons in the lateral hypothalamus of R6/2 mice. Importantly, we also found a significant atrophy and loss of orexin neurons in Huntington patients. Like animal models and patients with impaired orexin function, the R6/2 mice were narcoleptic. Both the number of orexin neurons in the lateral hypothalamus and the levels of orexin in the cerebrospinal fluid were reduced by 72% in end-stage R6/2 mice compared with wild-type littermates, suggesting that orexin could be used as a biomarker reflecting neurodegeneration. Our results show that the loss of orexin is a novel and potentially very important pathology in HD.


  • Translational Neuroendocrinology
  • Department of Experimental Medical Science
  • Basal Ganglia Pathophysiology
  • Division of Clinical Chemistry and Pharmacology
  • Neural Plasticity and Repair
  • Diabetes - Molecular Metabolism

Publishing year







Human Molecular Genetics





Document type

Journal article


Oxford University Press


  • Medical Genetics



Research group

  • Translational Neuroendocrinology
  • Basal Ganglia Pathophysiology
  • Neural Plasticity and Repair
  • Diabetes - Molecular Metabolism


  • ISSN: 0964-6906