Psychotropics (antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, antidepressants, anxiolytics, etc.
) are commonly prescribed to treat Huntington’s disease (HD). In HD preclinical models, while no psychotropic has convincingly affected huntingtin gene, HD modifying gene, or huntingtin protein expression, psychotropic neuroprotective effects include upregulated
huntingtin autophagy (lithium), histone acetylation (lithium, valproate, lamotrigine), miR-222 (lithium-plus-valproate), mitochondrial protection (haloperidol, trifluoperazine, imipramine, desipramine, nortriptyline, maprotiline, trazodone, sertraline, venlafaxine, melatonin), neurogenesis (lithium, valproate, fluoxetine, sertraline), and BDNF (lithium, valproate, sertraline) and downregulated
AP-1 DNA binding (lithium), p53 (lithium), huntingtin aggregation (antipsychotics, lithium), and apoptosis (trifluoperazine, loxapine, lithium, desipramine, nortriptyline, maprotiline, cyproheptadine, melatonin). In HD live mouse models, delayed disease onset (nortriptyline, melatonin), striatal preservation (haloperidol, tetrabenazine, lithium, sertraline), memory preservation (imipramine, trazodone, fluoxetine, sertraline, venlafaxine), motor improvement (tetrabenazine, lithium, valproate, imipramine, nortriptyline, trazodone, sertraline, venlafaxine), and extended survival (lithium, valproate, sertraline, melatonin) have been documented.
Upregulated CREB binding protein (CBP; valproate, dextromethorphan) and downregulated histone deacetylase (HDAC; valproate) await demonstration in HD models.
Most preclinical findings await replication and their limitations are reviewed.
The most promising findings involve replicated striatal neuroprotection and phenotypic disease modification in transgenic mice for tetrabenazine and for sertraline.
Clinical data consist of an uncontrolled lithium case series (n
= 3) suggesting non-progression and a primarily negative double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of lamotrigine.