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The Physiology of a Neurodegenerative Disease

Huntington's Disease



Author:

Christine M. Fleet
Biology Department
Emory & Henry College
cfleet@ehc.edu

Abstract:

In this case, a young woman learns that her uncle has been diagnosed with Huntington’s disease. She talks with her fellow graduate students to try to better understand the physiology of the disorder, along with the medical and personal implications for the patient and his caregivers. Students review scientific papers to help them address a series of guided questions about the symptoms and care; the roles of membrane potential, neurotransmitters and cell death; and experimental approaches to understanding the disease. The case encourages students to integrate ideas from a range of biology disciplines to develop a conceptual framework for what is currently known about Huntington's. Developed for an upper-level college physiology course, this case could also be appropriate for classes on cell biology, molecular biology, or genetics.

Objectives:
  • Have increased familiarity with primary science literature and use of science literature databases.
  • Know the causes and symptoms of HD in particular and in comparison to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
  • Understand the role of striatal neurons and gamma amino-butyric acid (GABA) in HD and general neurological function.
  • Understand the functions of calcium concentrations and membrane potential in cell death.
  • Be able to describe at least one current experimental approach to studies of HD.
Keywords: Huntington's disease; neurodegenerative disease; genetic disease; membrane potential; cell death
Topical Area: N/A
Educational Level: Undergraduate upper division
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Interrupted, Student Presentations
Language: English
Subject Headings: Physiology   Cell Biology   Molecular Biology   Genetics / Heredity  
Date Posted: 01/20/09
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

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