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Am J Pathol. 2004 Mar;164(3):975-85.

Intracellular accumulation of amyloidogenic fragments of amyloid-beta precursor protein in neurons with Niemann-Pick type C defects is associated with endosomal abnormalities.

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Department of Pathology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98104-2499, USA.

Erratum in

  • Am J Pathol. 2004 Oct;165(4):1447.


Niemann-Pick type C disease (NPC) is characterized by neurodegeneration secondary to impaired cholesterol trafficking and excessive glycosphingolipid storage. Abnormal cholesterol and ganglioside metabolism may influence the generation and aggregation of amyloidogenic fragments (ie, C99 and Abeta) from amyloid-beta precursor protein (APP), crucial factors causing neurodegeneration in Alzheimer's disease. To reveal whether abnormal accumulation and aggregation of APP fragments also occurs in NPC, we studied their expression in cultured cortical neurons treated with U18666A, a compound widely used to induce NPC defects, and also in brain tissues from NPC patients. U18666A treatment resulted in increased intraneuronal levels of C99 and insoluble Abeta42, which were distributed among early and late endosomes, in compartments distinct from where endogenous cholesterol accumulates. Analyses of NPC brains revealed that C99 or other APP C-terminal fragments (APP-CTF), but not Abeta42, accumulated in Purkinje cells, mainly in early endosomes. In contrast, in hippocampal pyramidal neurons, the major accumulated species was Abeta42, in late endosomes. Similar to what has been shown in Alzheimer's disease, cathepsin D, a lysosomal hydrolase, was redistributed to early endosomes in NPC Purkinje cells, where it co-localized with C99/APP-CTF. Our results suggest that endosomal abnormalities related to abnormal lipid trafficking in NPC may contribute to abnormal APP processing and Abeta42/C99/APP-CTF deposition.

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