Impaired retromer function in niemann-pick type c disease is dependent on intracellular cholesterol accumulation

Kristina Dominko, Ana Rastija, Sandra Sobocanec, Lea Vidatic, Sarah Meglaj, Andrea Lovincic Babic, Birgit Hutter-Paier, Alessio Vittorio Colombo, Stefan F. Lichtenthaler, Sabina Tahirovic, Silva Hecimovic

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9 Scopus citations


Niemann-Pick type C disease (NPC) is a rare inherited neurodegenerative disorder characterized by an accumulation of intracellular cholesterol within late endosomes and lysosomes due to NPC1 or NPC2 dysfunction. In this work, we tested the hypothesis that retromer impairment may be involved in the pathogenesis of NPC and may contribute to increased amyloidogenic processing of APP and enhanced BACE1-mediated proteolysis observed in NPC disease. Using NPC1-null cells, primary mouse NPC1-deficient neurons and NPC1-deficient mice (BALB/cNctr-Npc1m1N), we show that retromer function is impaired in NPC. This is manifested by altered transport of the retromer core components Vps26, Vps35 and/or retromer receptor sorLA and by retromer accumulation in neuronal processes, such as within axonal swellings. Changes in retromer distribution in NPC1 mouse brains were observed already at the presymptomatic stage (at 4-weeks of age), indicating that the retromer defect occurs early in the course of NPC disease and may contribute to downstream pathological processes. Furthermore, we show that cholesterol depletion in NPC1-null cells and in NPC1 mouse brains reverts retromer dysfunction, suggesting that retromer impairment in NPC is mechanistically dependent on cholesterol accumulation. Thus, we characterized retromer dysfunction in NPC and propose that the rescue of retromer impairment may represent a novel therapeutic approach against NPC.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13256
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number24
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Cholesterol homeostasis
  • Endolysosomal pathway
  • NPC1
  • Neurodegenera-tive diseases
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Rare diseases
  • Retromer


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