What’s the Difference Between Parkinson’s and Huntington’s Disease?

What’s the Difference Between Parkinson’s and Huntington’s Disease?

Huntington's disease and Parkinson's disease are examples of degenerative brain illnesses. Even while they have certain symptoms in common, they tend to afflict diverse groups and have different causes.

The central nervous system (CNS) is gradually affected by neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's and Huntington's disease. These disorders arise from the gradual degeneration and death of CNS nerve cells.

There are clear distinctions between them even though they have a comparable impact on movement. Parkinson's is brought on by a degeneration of dopamine-producing brain cells. Huntington's disease is inherited.

Continue reading to find out more about the characteristics, prognoses, causes, symptoms, and potential treatments of Huntington's and Parkinson's diseases.

What is Parkinson’s disease?

Parkinson's disease is a degenerative condition of the neurological system that progressively impairs movement.

Parkinson's is caused by the death of brain cells that produce dopamine. Decreased dopamine, a neurotransmitter that aids in motor control and coordination, results from this.

Although the precise aetiology of Parkinson's disease is unknown, researchers think a mix of environmental and hereditary factors may raise the risk.

What is Huntington’s disease?

A uncommon hereditary condition called Huntington's disease results in brain deterioration. It is caused by an overabundance of cytosine-adenine-guanine (CAG) repeats in a mutation of the Huntingtin (HTT) gene.

These genetic code repeats cause a mutant protein to be produced, which builds up in brain cells and eventually causes their death.

Basal ganglia's function in Parkinson's and Huntington's disease

A group of brain regions called the basal ganglia aid in motor control and coordination.

Reduced dopamine production is the primary outcome of Parkinson's disease, which largely affects the substantia nigra, a region of the basal ganglia. Movement problems result from an imbalance between the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is involved in movement, and dopamine.

The basal ganglia are directly impacted by Huntington's disease. The striatum, which includes the putamen and caudate, is most prominently affected. Reasoning, emotion, and motor control are all influenced by the striatum.

How do the symptoms of Parkinson’s and Huntington’s differ?

While both Parkinson's and Huntington's are CNS-affecting neurodegenerative diseases, their symptoms are different.

The main symptoms of Parkinson's disease are those that are connected to movement, like:
  • muscle stiffness
  • slowness of movement (bradykinesia)
  • poor balance and coordination
  • tremors that happen while the muscles are not moving
Conversely, the symptoms of Huntington's disease are associated with involuntary movements and include:
  • jerky, uncontrollable motions (chorea)
  • aberrant postures brought on by muscular contractions (dystonia)
  • abrupt, fleeting jerks in the muscles (myoclonus)
One hallmark of Huntington's disease is changes in thinking capacity. Psychiatric symptoms like depression, anxiety, and psychosis are also commonly caused by it.

When do Parkinson's and Huntington's disease symptoms start to show up?

Parkinson's disease symptoms can occur younger, however they usually first manifest in persons over 60.

In contrast, between the ages of 30 and 50 is usually when Huntington's disease symptoms first appear.

Can Huntington’s and Parkinson’s be misdiagnosed as each other?

Doctors can use a blood test to confirm a diagnosis of Huntington's disease because it is a genetic illness. As a result, physicians seldom misidentify other illnesses as Huntington's disease.

However, in circumstances when Huntington's disease develops later in life, clinicians may misdiagnose it as something else if they have no reason to suspect it.

While there may be certain symptoms that are similar between Parkinson's and Huntington's disease, a skilled neurologist can usually distinguish between the two.

Individuals with Huntington's disease, particularly those in their latter years, may exhibit parkinsonian signs, such as a lowered head and less expressive facial expressions.

It is advisable to consult with a trained healthcare provider for an appropriate diagnosis and evaluation in order to distinguish between Huntington's and Parkinson's disease.

How do the treatment options for Parkinson’s and Huntington’s differ?

The main goals of treating Parkinson's disease are symptom management and raising dopamine levels in the brain. The following drugs can improve dopamine function and lessen motor symptoms:
  • levodopa/carbidopa (Sinemet)
  • Inhibitors of monoamine oxidase type B (MAO-B)
  • dopamine agonists like pramipexole
Additional Parkinson's disease treatments include:
  • deep brain stimulation
  • physical and occupational therapy
  • lifestyle choices including eating a balanced diet and exercising frequently
Managing both motor and nonmotor symptoms is the primary objective of Huntington's treatment. A medical practitioner may advise or prescribe:
  • Xenazine, or tetrabenazine, to treat chorea
  • Antidepressants, mood stabilisers, and antipsychotics are prescribed to treat mental health issues.
  • Physiotherapy, occupational therapy, or speech therapy to enhance general quality of life

What are the differences in prognosis between Huntington's and Parkinson's patients?

Parkinson's disease can vary in severity and course from person to person even though it is a chronic disorder. You can limit its growth and preserve your quality of life with the right care and management.

Huntington's disease usually takes 15 to 20 years to progress and has no known cure. It causes a reduction in cognitive and motor function, which increases the risk of impairment and the need for carers.

Individuals with Huntington's disease often live into their 60s, a lower life expectancy than those with Parkinson's disease.

How does Alzheimer’s differ from Parkinson’s and Huntington’s?

Cognitive and motor symptoms are seen in Parkinson's and Huntington's diseases. Psychotic symptoms are also a result of Huntington's.

A distinct type of neurodegenerative illness is Alzheimer's disease. It mostly impacts cognitive function and memory. Progressive memory loss, disorientation, and issues with language and problem-solving are common symptoms.

While there are many similarities between these diseases, their underlying origins, development, and primary symptoms are different.


Is Huntington's disease same as Parkinson's?

Huntington's disease is caused by mutations in a single gene, which starts the changes in the brain that create this dreadful disease, unlike Parkinson's disease, which has a complicated genetic background.

Can Huntington's be misdiagnosed as Parkinson's

The predominant motor phenotype in older, late exhibiting patients and in paediatric HD subjects is largely Parkinsonian, frequently with little to no chorea. In these populations, diagnosing HD is challenging, and patients frequently receive the incorrect diagnosis early on.

Does a brain MRI show Huntington's disease?

Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and in vivo functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) have also demonstrated potential in identifying preclinical HD mutation carriers years prior to the development of symptoms.


Huntington's disease and Parkinson's disease are examples of neurodegenerative brain disorders. Despite certain similarities, each ailment has unique symptoms and calls for a distinctive approach to therapy.

Both can impair mobility, but the symptoms of Huntington's disease are hereditary and typically appear in middle life. Huntington's disease may also cause psychological problems.

For an accurate diagnosis and course of treatment, think about consulting a physician.

Post a Comment