Abiotrophy is sometimes used to refer to 1) an age-dependent
manifestation of a trait that is inherited, 2) an inherited degenerative
disease leading to progressive loss of function, especially those of
late onset or 3) early loss of vitality or degeneration of tissues or cells
(usually of the nervous system), particularly when causes by genetic
factors. The picture to the right shows a loss of tissue in the right leg
as an example. An example of a late-onset instance of abiotrophy is
Huntington’s disease. Huntington's disease is a motor disorder that
results in chorea and deterioration of mental functioning. Chorea is
involuntary, irregular, dance-like movements of the arms, legs, and

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Another example of abiotrophy is cerebellar abiotophy (CA), also known as cerebellar
cortical abiotrophy (CCA). This is a genetic condition in animals (especially horses and
dogs) in which Purkinje cells of the cerebellum die. The cerebellum is an area in the back,
bottom part of the brain that plays an important role in movement and coordination. The
Purkinje cells provide the output of the cerebellar cortex and receive excitatory input from
two fiber systems.

Abiotrophy comes from the Greek word “a” meaning “to do without,” the Greek word
“bios” meaning “life” and the Greek word “trophe” meaning “nourishment.” Put the words
together and you have “to do without life (and) nourishment.
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