Huntington disease (HD) fibroblasts subjected to stress exhibit an enzyme profile that is different from that exhibited by escapee (unaffected members of families with HD) or control fibroblasts. The specific activity of glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) in normally cultured HD fibroblasts was not different from that in control and escapee fibroblasts. However, in escapee and control fibroblasts subjected to stress by withholding fresh medium, the specific activity of GAPDH in cells harvested by trypsinization increased greatly 3 weeks after withholding medium (∼8-fold), but the increase was significantly less pronounced (∼3-fold) in the HD fibroblasts. In contrast, only small changes occurred in the specific activity of lipoamide dehydrogenase (LADH) over the same time period, and the values were not significantly different among the three groups at any time point. The specific activity of hexokinase (HK) was significantly higher in the HD fibroblasts at 1–3 weeks after withholding fresh medium than in the escapee/control fibroblasts. Finally, the total yield of fibroblasts per culture flask (as judged by protein content) was significantly greater for the stressed HD fibroblasts than for the escapee and control fibroblasts at 2 and 3 weeks after withholding medium. The present results are in accord with the hypothesis that HD is a disease associated with latent, generalized metabolic abnormalities.

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