Impaired autophagy in the lipid-storage disorder Niemann-Pick type C1 disease

Sovan Sarkar, Bernadette Carroll, Yosef Buganim, Dorothea Maetzel, Alex H M Ng, John P Cassady, Malkiel A Cohen, Souvik Chakraborty, Haoyi Wang, Eric Spooner, Hidde Ploegh, Joerg Gsponer, Viktor I Korolchuk, Rudolf Jaenisch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

149 Citations (Scopus)


Autophagy dysfunction has been implicated in misfolded protein accumulation and cellular toxicity in several diseases. Whether alterations in autophagy also contribute to the pathology of lipid-storage disorders is not clear. Here, we show defective autophagy in Niemann-Pick type C1 (NPC1) disease associated with cholesterol accumulation, where the maturation of autophagosomes is impaired because of defective amphisome formation caused by failure in SNARE machinery, whereas the lysosomal proteolytic function remains unaffected. Expression of functional NPC1 protein rescues this defect. Inhibition of autophagy also causes cholesterol accumulation. Compromised autophagy was seen in disease-affected organs of Npc1 mutant mice. Of potential therapeutic relevance is that HP-β-cyclodextrin, which is used for cholesterol-depletion treatment, impedes autophagy, whereas stimulating autophagy restores its function independent of amphisome formation. Our data suggest that a low dose of HP-β-cyclodextrin that does not perturb autophagy, coupled with an autophagy inducer, may provide a rational treatment strategy for NPC1 disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1302-15
Number of pages14
JournalCell Reports
Issue number5
Early online date27 Nov 2013
Publication statusPublished - 12 Dec 2013


  • Animals
  • Autophagy
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cholesterol
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Lysosomes
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Mice
  • Neurons
  • Niemann-Pick Disease, Type C
  • Rats
  • SNARE Proteins
  • beta-Cyclodextrins


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