Increased Regenerative Capacity of the Olfactory Epithelium in Niemann–Pick Disease Type C1

Int J Mol Sci. 2017 Apr 6;18(4). pii: E777. doi: 10.3390/ijms18040777.


Niemann–Pick disease type C1 (NPC1) is a fatal neurovisceral lysosomal lipid storage disorder. The mutation of the NPC1 protein affects the homeostasis and transport of cholesterol and glycosphingolipids from late endosomes/lysosomes to the endoplasmic reticulum resulting in progressive neurodegeneration. Since olfactory impairment is one of the earliest symptoms in many neurodegenerative disorders, we focused on alterations of the olfactory epithelium in an NPC1 mouse model. Previous findings revealed severe morphological and immunohistochemical alterations in the olfactory system of NPC1-/- mutant mice compared with healthy controls (NPC1+/+). Based on immunohistochemical evaluation of the olfactory epithelium, we analyzed the impact of neurodegeneration in the olfactory epithelium of NPC1-/- mice and observed considerable loss of mature olfactory receptor neurons as well as an increased number of proliferating and apoptotic cells. Additionally, after administration of two different therapy approaches using either a combination of miglustat, 2-hydroxypropyl--cyclodextrin (HPCD) and allopregnanolone or a monotherapy with HPCD, we recorded a remarkable reduction of morphological damages in NPC1-/- mice and an up to four-fold increase of proliferating cells within the olfactory epithelium. Numbers of mature olfactory receptor neurons doubled after both therapy approaches. Interestingly, we also observed therapy-induced alterations in treated NPC1+/+ controls. Thus, olfactory testing may provide useful information to monitor pharmacologic treatment approaches in human NPC1.