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Vorinostat, a Histone Deacetylase Inhibitor, as a Candidate Therapy to Treat Liver Pathology in a Niemann-Pick type C Disease Mouse Model

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posted on 08.12.2021, 21:46 by Natalie HammondNatalie Hammond

Niemann-Pick type C (NPC) disease is a rare neuro-visceral, lysosomal storage disorder for which no effective therapy yet exists. A recessive mutation in the late endosomal/lysosomal cholesterol transport genes NPC1 (95%) or NPC2 (5%) are the causative factors which leads to an accumulation of unesterified cholesterol and sphingolipids in the late endosome/lysosome. It is a build-up of these lipids that, in the majority of cases, ultimately leads to premature death prior to adolescence. In recent years, an imbalance of histone acetylation in a yeast model of NPC disease and subsequently an increased expression of histone deacetylase genes in NPC patient fibroblasts relative to healthy controls was discovered. This led to the finding that Vorinostat (suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (SAHA); Zolinza®) a histone deacetylase inhibitor (HDACi) drug, rescued unesterified cholesterol accumulation in NPC patient fibroblasts. From these findings in NPC patient fibroblasts, a Phase I clinical trial testing the efficacy of orally-administered Vorinostat in adult NPC disease patients commenced in 2014; however, the therapeutic efficacy of Vorinostat in a whole animal model of NPC disease has not been investigated and is thus unknown. In this thesis, the therapeutic efficacy of intra-peritoneal administered 150 mg/kg Vorinostat in the Npc1nmf164 mouse was explored. This internationally approved HDACi reduced liver disease by decreasing lipid accumulation without increasing expression of NPC1; however, the treatment did not delay weight loss, onset of ataxia and premature death, possibly due to insufficient concentrations penetrating through the blood brain barrier. Transcriptome analysis suggested Vorinostat improved liver disease in a pleiotropic manner, not surprising given the epigenetic nature of HDACi at the gene expression level. Overall, the results herein are of particular importance to the current clinical trial where the therapeutic efficacy is being investigated without any knowledge of efficacy in an animal of NPC disease.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Biomedical Science

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Biomedical Science

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Biological Sciences


Munkacsi, Andrew