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Niemann-Pick disease type C (NPC) is a neurodegenerative lysosomal storage disorder characterized by lipid accumulation in endolysosomes. An early pathologic hallmark is axonal dystrophy occurring at presymptomatic stages in NPC mice. However, the mechanisms underlying this pathologic change remain obscure. Here, we demonstrate that endocytic-autophagic organelles accumulate in NPC dystrophic axons. Using super-resolution and live-neuron imaging, we reveal that elevated cholesterol on NPC lysosome membranes sequesters kinesin-1 and Arl8 independent of SKIP and Arl8-GTPase activity, resulting in impaired lysosome transport into axons, contributing to axonal autophagosome accumulation. Pharmacologic reduction of lysosomal membrane cholesterol with 2-hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin (HPCD) or elevated Arl8b expression rescues lysosome transport, thereby reducing axonal autophagic stress and neuron death in NPC. These findings demonstrate a pathological mechanism by which altered membrane lipid composition impairs lysosome delivery into axons and provide biological insights into the translational application of HPCD in restoring axonal homeostasis at early stages of NPC disease.

Original publication




Journal article


Dev Cell

Publication Date



Niemann-Pick disease type C, autophagosome, axonal dystrophy, axonal transport, cholesterol, kinesin, lipid, lysosomal storage disorder, lysosome, neurodegeneration