What causes Huntington’s disease?

Huntington’s disease is caused by a faulty gene on chromosome 4. The gene, which produces a protein called Huntingtin, was discovered in 1993.

In some way - which is not yet understood - the faulty gene leads to a damage of the nerve cells in areas of the brain, including the the basal ganglia and cerebral cortex.

This leads to gradual physical, mental and emotional changes.

Each person whose parent has Huntington’s disease is born with a 50-50 chance of inheriting the faulty gene. Anyone who inherits the faulty gene will, at some stage, develop the disease.

A genetic test is available from Regional Genetic Clinics throughout the country. This test will usually be able to show whether someone has inherited the faulty gene, but it will not indicate the age at which they will develop the disease.

More information

The information contained on this page is available to download from our fact sheets page.

HDA fact sheets

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