Genetic variations and treatments that affect the lifespan of the NPC1 mouse

Niemann-Pick type C (NPC) disease is a multisystem disorder caused primarily by a mutation in the npc1 gene. These studies evaluated the effect of genetic background, deletion of additional genes, and administration of several agents on the age at death in a murine model of this disorder. Such factors as differing strain background or genetic drift within a given background in the npc1(-/-) mouse significantly altered the age at death and the degree of organ disease. Genetic deletion of Siat9 (GM3 synthetase) or Nr1h2 [liver X receptor (LXR)beta] shortened the life of the npc1(-/-) animals. Daily treatment of the npc1(-/-) mice with an LXR agonist or administration of a single dose of cyclodextrin, with or without the neurosteroid allopregnanolone, significantly slowed neurodegeneration and increased the lifespan of these animals. These data illustrate that the age at death of the npc1(-/-) mouse can be significantly influenced by many factors, including differences in strain background, other inactivating gene mutations (Siat9 and lxrbeta), and administration of agents such as LXR agonists and, particularly, cyclodextrin. It is currently not clear which of these effects is nonspecific or which might relate directly to the molecular defect present in the NPC1 syndrome.

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