Huntington disease (HD) is a neurodegenerative disorder caused by a CAG repeat expansion in the huntingtin (HTT) gene. Metabolic changes are associated with HD progression, but underlying mechanisms are not fully known. As the IKKβ/NF-κB pathway is an essential regulator of metabolism, we investigated the involvement of IKKβ, the upstream activator of NF-κB in hypothalamus-specific HD metabolic changes. We expressed amyloidogenic N-terminal fragments of mutant HTT (mHTT) in the hypothalamus of mice with brain-specific ablation of IKKβ (Nestin/IKKβlox/lox) and control mice (IKKβlox/lox). We assessed effects on body weight, metabolic hormones, and hypothalamic neuropathology. Hypothalamic expression of mHTT led to an obese phenotype only in female mice. CNS-specific inactivation of IKKβ prohibited weight gain in females, which was independent of neuroprotection and microglial activation. Our study suggests that mHTT in the hypothalamus causes metabolic imbalance in a sex-specific fashion, and central inhibition of the IKKβ pathway attenuates the obese phenotype.
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