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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2004 Oct 11;1685(1-3):63-76.

Before the loss: neuronal dysfunction in Niemann-Pick Type C disease.

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Department of Biochemistry, Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, New Hampshire 03755, USA.


Niemann-Pick Type C (NPC) disease is an autosomal recessive disorder caused by mutations in either the NPC1 or HE1 genes. Hallmarks of this presently incurable disease include abnormal intracellular accumulation of cholesterol and glycosphingolipids, progressive neuropathology and neurodegeneration, and premature death. There have been increased efforts to understand the effects of NPC disease on neurons of the brain, in part due to the recent development of improved research tools and reagents, and in part due to the rapidly growing appreciation of the importance of cholesterol and lipoproteins in the brain during neuronal development, function, and degeneration. Here, we highlight fundamental aspects of neurons that appear to be affected by NPC disease, including their morphology, metabolism, intracellular transport, electrical signaling, and response to environmental factors, and suggest other potentially important areas for future investigation. This provides a framework for acquiring additional insight to this disorder and shaping new therapeutic approaches to NPC disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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