Date of Award

Fall 12-20-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Applied Biopsychology



Major Professor

LaHoste, Gerald

Second Advisor

Morgan, Lee Roy

Third Advisor

Martel, Michelle


Huntington’s disease (HD) is a heritable, neurodegenerative disorder characterized by motor, cognitive, and psychiatric disturbances. An unstable CAG expansion within the gene normally encoding for the Huntingtin protein is responsible. The expanded mutant form of Huntingtin and the putative protein co-factor Rhes interact and cause cell death within the striatum. We hypothesized chronic treatment with simvastatin, a cholesterol lowering drug, would disrupt the biosynthetical pathway which gives both Rhes and its target cells binding sites and render Rhes inactive. Healthy and HD mice were treated with simvastatin or a vehicle. Animals’ motor behavior was assessed with three separate tests over the first four months of life. No significant differences were found between the HD groups; however, the HD treated animals’ performance on the rotarod test, at month 4, was intermediate between healthy mice and HD vehicle treated mice. The results hint at simvastatin’s therapeutic potential, but are interpreted cautiously.


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