Huntington’s disease (HD) is a progressive, multifaceted neurodegenerative disease associated with weight loss and gut problems. Under healthy conditions, tight junction (TJ) proteins maintain the intestinal barrier integrity preventing bacterial translocation from the intestinal lumen to the systemic circulation. Reduction of TJs expression in Parkinson’s disease patients has been linked with increased intestinal permeability—leaky gut syndrome. The intestine contains microbiota, most dominant phyla being Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes; in pathogenic or disease conditions the balance between these bacteria might be disrupted. The present study investigated whether there is evidence for an increased intestinal permeability and dysbiosis in the R6/2 mouse model of HD. Our data demonstrate that decreased body weight and body length in R6/2 mice is accompanied by a significant decrease in colon length and increased gut permeability compared to wild type littermates, without any significant changes in the protein levels of the tight junction proteins (occludin, zonula occludens). Moreover, we found an altered gut microbiota in R6/2 mice with increased relative abundance of Bacteroidetes and decreased of Firmicutes. Our results indicate an increased intestinal permeability and dysbiosis in R6/2 mice and further studies investigating the clinical relevance of these findings are warranted.
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