GM2/GD2 and GM3 gangliosides have no effect on cellular cholesterol pools or turnover in normal or NPC1 mice

Hao Li, Stephen D. Turley, Benny Liu, Joyce J. Repa, John M. Dietschy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


These studies investigated the role of gangliosides in governing the steady-state concentration and turnover of unesterified cholesterol in normal tissues and in those of mice carrying the NPC1 mutation. In animals lacking either GM2/GD2 or GM3 synthase, tissue cholesterol concentrations and synthesis rates were normal in nearly all organs, and whole-animal sterol pools and turnover also were not different from control animals. Mice lacking both synthases, however, had small elevations in cholesterol concentrations in several organs, and the whole-animal cholesterol pool was marginally elevated. None of these three groups, however, had changes in any parameter of cholesterol homeostasis in the major regions of the central nervous system. When either the GM2/GD2 or GM3 synthase activity was deleted in mice lacking NPC1 function, the clinical phenotype was not changed, but lifespan was shortened. However, the abnormal cholesterol accumulation seen in the tissues of the NPC1 mouse was unaffected by loss of either synthase, and clinical and molecular markers of hepatic and cerebellar disease also were unchanged. These studies demonstrate that hydrophobic interactions between cholesterol and various gangliosides do not play an important role in determining cellular cholesterol concentrations in the normal animal or in the mouse with the NPC1 mutation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1816-1828
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of lipid research
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2008


  • Brain cholesterol
  • Cholesterol synthesis
  • Glycosphingolipids
  • Membrane cholesterol
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Niemann-Pick type C disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Cell Biology


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