Niemann Pick type C (NPC) disease is a rare neurovisceral disorder. Mutations in npc1 gene induce an intracellular accumulation of unesterified cholesterol in the endosomal/lysosomal system causing cell death. We recently showed that stimulation of adenosine A2A receptors (A2AR) restores cholesterol accumulation in late endosomes/lysosomes in human NPC fibroblasts and neural cell lines transiently transfected with NPC1 siRNA, suggesting that these receptors might be targeted to contrast the disease. Since NPC1 disease is characterized by dysmyelination and maturational arrest of oligodendrocyte progenitors (OPs), in this study, we investigated whether A2AR stimulation could promote oligodendrocyte differentiation and myelin formation, thus overcoming these important neurological abnormalities. We developed a NPC1 pharmacological model, in which primary cultures of OPs are exposed to a cholesterol transport inhibitor to induce a NPC1-like phenotype characterized by several typical features such as (i) cholesterol accumulation, (ii) altered mitochondrial morphology and membrane potential, (iii) defect of autophagy and (iv) maturation arrest. The A2AR agonist CGS21680 normalized all NPC1-like features. The ability of CGS21680 of rescuing OP from maturational arrest and promoting their differentiation to mature OL, suggests that A2AR stimulation might be exploited to correct dysmyelination in NPC1, further supporting their therapeutic potential in the disease.
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