Niemann-Pick C1 (NPC1) disease is a rare, neurodegenerative lysosomal cholesterol storage disorder, typified by progressive cognitive and motor function impairment. Affected individuals usually succumb to the disease in adolescence. 2-Hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin (HP-β-CD) has emerged as a promising intervention that reduces lipid storage and prolongs survival in NPC1 disease animal models. A barrier to the development of HP-β-CD and other treatments for NPC disease has been the lack of validated biochemical measures to evaluate efficacy. Here we explored whether cholesterol homeostatic responses resulting from HP-β-CD-mediated redistribution of sequestered lysosomal cholesterol could provide biomarkers to monitor treatment. Upon direct CNS delivery of HP-β-CD, we found increases in plasma 24(S)-HC in two independent NPC1 disease animal models, findings that were confirmed in human NPC1 subjects receiving HP-β-CD. Since circulating 24(S)-HC is almost exclusively CNS-derived, the increase in plasma 24(S)-HC provides a peripheral, non-invasive measure of the CNS effect of HP-β-CD. Our findings suggest that plasma 24(S)-HC, along with the other cholesterol-derived markers examined in this study, can serve as biomarkers that will accelerate development of therapeutics for NPC1 disease.
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