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J Biol Chem. 2012 Mar 16;287(12):9290-8. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.326405. Epub 2012 Jan 25.

Normalization of cholesterol homeostasis by 2-hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin in neurons and glia from Niemann-Pick C1 (NPC1)-deficient mice.

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Department of Medicine, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.


Niemann-Pick C (NPC) disease is an inherited, progressive neurodegenerative disorder caused by mutations in the NPC1 or NPC2 gene that result in an accumulation of unesterified cholesterol in late endosomes/lysosomes (LE/L) and impaired export of cholesterol from LE/L to the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Recent studies demonstrate that administration of cyclodextrin (CD) to Npc1(-/-) mice eliminates cholesterol sequestration in LE/L of many tissues, including the brain, delays neurodegeneration, and increases lifespan of the mice. We have now investigated cholesterol homeostasis in NPC1-deficient cells of the brain in response to CD. Primary cultures of neurons and glial cells from Npc1(-/-) mice were incubated for 24 h with 0.1 to 10 mm CD after which survival and cholesterol homeostasis were monitored. Although 10 mm CD was profoundly neurotoxic, and altered astrocyte morphology, 0.1 and 1 mm CD were not toxic but effectively mobilized stored cholesterol from the LE/L as indicated by filipin staining. However, 0.1 and 1 mm CD altered cholesterol homeostasis in opposite directions. The data suggest that 0.1 mm CD releases cholesterol trapped in LE/L of neurons and astrocytes and increases cholesterol availability at the ER, whereas 1 mm CD primarily extracts cholesterol from the plasma membrane and reduces ER cholesterol. These studies in Npc1(-/-) neurons and astrocytes establish a dose of CD (0.1 mm) that would likely be beneficial in NPC disease. The findings are timely because treatment of NPC disease patients with CD is currently being initiated.

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