Christa Sparling

New Approach for Cholesterol and Sphingolipid Reduction in Niemann-Pick C1 Disease

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Jason Newton

Department: Biology

In a nutshell: Niemann-Pick C1 disease is a disease in which the body has trouble metabolizing fats. Neurodegenerative diseases also have problems with the metabolism of fats. By researching degenerative diseases, my mentor and I were able to integrate ideas used in neurodegenerative disease research and incorporate their protocols into our future research.

In a bigger shell: Niemann-Pick C1 disease is a disease characterized by an accumulation of sphingolipids due to mutations in the NPC gene. There is much evidence that shows degenerative diseases, such as Huntington’s disease, also have problems with sphingolipid metabolism. Huntington’s disease is a disease in which there is a progressive decline in motor, cognitive, and behavioral function due to the breakdown of nerve cells in the brain. In this review, we hypothesize that there is a conserved sphingolipid metabolism defect that contributes to neuronal death in complex progressive neurodegenerative diseases.

End of year goal: We are hoping that through this review we will be able to gather enough information to conclude that problems with sphingolipid metabolism lead to neuron death in neurodegenerative diseases.

A tip for others: A tip I have for someone who wants to work on something similar is to make sure that the information you research is organized. There will be many research papers that will be beneficial to your own research and keeping the information accessible and easy to retrieve will make your life easier.