The role of p53 in neuronal cell death

Cell Death Differ. 2000 Oct;7(10):868-79. doi: 10.1038/sj.cdd.4400741.


The p53 tumor suppressor gene is a sequence-specific transcription factor that activates the expression of genes engaged in promoting growth arrest or cell death in response to genotoxic stress. A possible role for p53-related modulation of neuronal viability has been suggested by the finding that p53 expression is elevated in damaged neurons in acute models of injury such as ischemia and epilepsy and in brain tissue samples derived from patients with chronic neurodegenerative diseases. Moreover, the absence of p53 has been shown to protect neurons from a wide variety of acute toxic insults. Signal transduction pathways associated with p53-induced cell death are being unraveled and suggest that intervention may prove fruitful in maintaining neuronal viability and restoring function following cytopathic insults.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Death / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / physiology*


  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53