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J Lipid Res. 2010 Aug;51(8):2372-83. doi: 10.1194/jlr.M007211. Epub 2010 Apr 24.

Recovery from liver disease in a Niemann-Pick type C mouse model.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, Tufts University School of Medicine, 136 Harrison Avenue, Boston, MA 02111.


Loss of function of Niemann-Pick C1 (NPC1) leads to lysosomal free cholesterol storage, resulting in the neurodegenerative disease Niemann-Pick disease type C (NPC). Significant numbers of patients with NPC also suffer from liver disease. Currently, no treatments exist that alter patient outcome, and it is unknown if recovery from tissue damage can occur even if a treatment were found. Our laboratory developed a strategy to test whether mice can recover from NPC liver disease. We used antisense oligonucleotides to knock down hepatic expression of NPC1 in BALB/C mice for either 9 or 15 weeks. This recapitulated liver disease with hepatomegaly, cell death, and fibrosis. Then, antisense oligonucleotide treatment was halted for an additional 4, 9, or 15 weeks. We report that significant liver recovery occurred even when NPC1 protein expression only partially returned to normal. Several pathological phenotypes were alleviated, including hepatomegaly, cholesterol storage, and liver cell death. Histological examination revealed that foamy cell accumulation was relieved; however, liver fibrosis increased. Additionally, resolution of cholesterol storage and liver cell death took longer in mice with long-term knockdown. Finally, we found that transcription of cholesterol homeostatic genes was significantly disrupted during the recovery phase after long-term knockdown.

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