Apoptosis in neurodegenerative disorders

Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2000 Nov;1(2):120-9. doi: 10.1038/35040009.


Neuronal death underlies the symptoms of many human neurological disorders, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's diseases, stroke, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The identification of specific genetic and environmental factors responsible for these diseases has bolstered evidence for a shared pathway of neuronal death--apoptosis--involving oxidative stress, perturbed calcium homeostasis, mitochondrial dysfunction and activation of cysteine proteases called caspases. These death cascades are counteracted by survival signals, which suppress oxyradicals and stabilize calcium homeostasis and mitochondrial function. With the identification of mechanisms that either promote or prevent neuronal apoptosis come new approaches for preventing and treating neurodegenerative disorders.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis*
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Caspases / metabolism
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria / physiology
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / pathology*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / physiopathology
  • Neurons / pathology*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Stroke / pathology*
  • Stroke / physiopathology


  • Caspases
  • Calcium