The Extending Spectrum of NPC1-Related Human Disorders: From Niemann–Pick C1 Disease to Obesity
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The Niemann-Pick type C1 (NPC1) protein regulates the transport of cholesterol and fatty acids from late endosomes/lysosomes and has a central role in maintaining lipid homeostasis. NPC1 loss-of-function mutations in humans cause NPC1 disease, a rare autosomal-recessive lipid-storage disorder characterized by progressive and lethal neurodegeneration, as well as liver and lung failure, due to cholesterol infiltration. In humans, genome-wide association studies and post-genome-wide association studies highlight the implication of common variants in NPC1 in adult-onset obesity, body fat mass, and type 2 diabetes. Heterozygous human carriers of rare loss-of-function coding variants in NPC1 display an increased risk of morbid adult obesity. These associations have been confirmed in mice models, showing an important interaction with high-fat diet. In this review, we describe the current state of knowledge for NPC1 variants in relationship to pleiotropic effects on metabolism. We provide evidence that NPC1 gene variations may predispose to common metabolic diseases by modulating steroid hormone synthesis and/or lipid homeostasis. We also propose several important directions of research to further define the complex roles of NPC1 in metabolism. This review emphasizes the contribution of NPC1 to obesity and its metabolic complications.
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