Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Dec 13;20(24).

Alteration of GABAergic Input Precedes Neurodegeneration of Cerebellar Purkinje Cells of NPC1-Deficient Mice.

Rabenstein M, Murr N, Hermann A, Rolfs A, Frech MJ.
Niemann-Pick Disease Type C1 (NPC1) is a rare hereditary neurodegenerative disease belonging to the family of lysosomal storage disorders. NPC1-patients suffer from, amongst other symptoms, ataxia, based on the dysfunction and loss of cerebellar Purkinje cells. Alterations in synaptic transmission are believed to contribute to a pathological mechanism leading to the progressive loss of Purkinje cells observed in NPC1-deficient mice. With regard to inhibitory synaptic transmission, alterations of GABAergic synapses are described but functional data are missing. For this reason, we have examined here the inhibitory GABAergic synaptic transmission of Purkinje cells of NPC1-deficient mice (NPC1-/-). Patch clamp recordings of inhibitory post-synaptic currents (IPSCs) of Purkinje cells revealed an increased frequency of GABAergic IPSCs in NPC1-/- mice. In addition, Purkinje cells of NPC1-/- mice were less amenable for modulation of synaptic transmission via the activation of excitatory NMDA-receptors (NMDA-Rs). Western blot testing disclosed a reduced protein level of phosphorylated alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid receptors (AMPA-Rs) subunit GluA2 in the cerebella of NPC1-/- mice, indicating a disturbance in the internalization of GluA2-containing AMPA-Rs. Since this is triggered by the activation of NMDA-Rs, we conclude that a disturbance in the synaptic turnover of AMPA-Rs underlies the defective inhibitory GABAergic synaptic transmission. While these alterations precede obvious signs of neurodegeneration of Purkinje cells, we propose a contribution of synaptic malfunction to the initiation of the loss of Purkinje cells in NPC1. Thus, a prevention of the disturbance of synaptic transmission in early stages of the disease might display a target with which to avert progressive neurodegeneration in NPC1.
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