Degeneration of neurons and glia in the Niemann-Pick C mouse is unrelated to the low-density lipoprotein receptor

D. C. German, E. M. Quintero, C. L. Liang, C. Xie, J. M. Dietschy

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37 Scopus citations


The BALB/c mouse model of Niemann-Pick type C disease exhibits similar neuropathological features to the human condition, including cerebral atrophy, demyelination of the corpus callosum, and degeneration of cerebellar Purkinje cells. The gene defect in Niemann-Pick C disease causes cholesterol to accumulate within the lysosomal compartment of neurons and glial cells. In order to determine whether cholesterol accumulation through the low-density lipoprotein receptor pathway plays an important role in the degenerative process, Niemann-Pick C mice were crossed with low-density lipoprotein receptor knockout mice. The purpose of the present study was to determine whether degeneration of neurons and glial cells is reduced in Niemann-Pick C animals lacking the low-density lipoprotein receptor. Using stereological counting methods, Purkinje cells were counted in the cerebellum and glial cell bodies were counted in the corpus callosum in mice at 3, 7.5 and 11 weeks of age. In the Niemann-Pick C animals, compared to wild-type control mice, there were 48% fewer glial cells at 3 weeks of age, and by 11 weeks of age there were 63% fewer glial cells. Purkinje cells were decreased in number by 13% at 3 weeks of age, and by 11 weeks of age there was a 96% loss. In the Niemann-Pick C animals lacking low-density lipoprotein receptors, there was no difference in the magnitude of glial cell or Purkinje cell loss compared to the Niemann-Pick C animals. These data indicate that both neurons and glia are vulnerable to degeneration in the Niemann-Pick C mouse, but that blocking the accumulation of cholesterol through the low-density lipoprotein receptor pathway does not alter the degenerative phenotype of Niemann-Pick C disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)999-1005
Number of pages7
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 22 2001



  • Corpus callosum
  • Glial cells
  • Purkinje cells
  • Stereology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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