What is Huntington's disease?

Huntington’s disease (HD) is a severe, progressive, neurodegenerative brain condition characterised by changes in muscle control, cognition (perception, awareness, thinking, judgement) and mental well-being (encompassing the full spectrum of psychiatric illness). HD has a sizeable impact on whole families as it is an autosomal dominant disorder which means that an affected individual has a 50:50 chance of passing it on. It is the most common single-gene neurodegenerative brain condition, with a prevalence in Scotland of approximately 1-2 per 10,000 of the population.

The gene that causes Huntington’s disease is located near the end of chromosome 4. It does not work properly when there are too many of a unit called a CAG repeat. We can count the number of CAG repeats and predict if an individual from a family with HD is likely to develop symptoms of the condition.

Most commonly people develop symptoms between the age of 33 - 45 yrs, less commonly at an older age and very rarely we see childhood / teenage onset.

Useful links

HD Buzz (Huntington's research news in plain language)

Scottish Huntington's Association

European Huntington's Disease Network

Huntington's Disease Youth Organization

NHS Choices, Huntington's Disease