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The Physiology of a Neurodegenerative Disease

Huntington's Disease


Author(s)

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 Areas

N/A

Educational Level

Undergraduate upper division

Format

PDF

Type / Methods

Interrupted, Student Presentations

Language

English

Subject Headings

Physiology  |   Cell Biology  |   Molecular Biology  |   Genetics / Heredity  |  


Date Posted

01/20/09

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