A distinct subpopulation of striatal aspiny neurons, containing the enzyme nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate diaphorase, is preserved in the caudate nucleus in Huntington's disease. Biochemical assays confirmed a significant increase in the activity of this enzyme in both the caudate nucleus and putamen in postmortem brain tissue from patients with this disease. The resistance of these neurons suggests that the gene defect in Huntington's disease may be modifiable by the local biochemical environment. This finding may provide insight into the nature of the genetically programmed cell death that is a characteristic of the disease.

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