Nrf2—a therapeutic target for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases

Delinda A Johnson, Jeffrey A Johnson
Free Radical Biology & Medicine 2015, 88 (Pt B): 253-267
The brain is very sensitive to changes in redox status; thus maintaining redox homeostasis in the brain is critical for the prevention of accumulating oxidative damage. Aging is the primary risk factor for developing neurodegenerative diseases. In addition to age, genetic and environmental risk factors have also been associated with disease development. The primary reactive insults associated with the aging process are a result of oxidative stress (OS) and nitrosative stress (NS). Markers of increased oxidative stress, protein and DNA modification, inflammation, and dysfunctional proteostasis have all been implicated in contributing to the progression of neurodegeneration. The ability of the cell to combat OS/NS and maintain a clearance mechanism for misfolded aggregating proteins determines whether or not it will survive. A critical pathway in this regard is the Nrf2 (nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2)- antioxidant response element (ARE) pathway. Nrf2 activation has been shown to mitigate a number of pathologic mechanisms associated with Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Huntington's disease, and multiple sclerosis. This review will focus on the role of Nrf2 in these diseases and the potential for Nrf2 activation to attenuate disease progression.

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