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, 24 (1-3), 131-44

Caspase-dependent Apoptotic Pathways in CNS Injury


Caspase-dependent Apoptotic Pathways in CNS Injury

A G Yakovlev et al. Mol Neurobiol.


Recent studies have suggested a role for neuronal apoptosis in cell loss following acute CNS injury as well as in chronic neurodegeneration. Caspases are a family of cysteine requiring aspartate proteases with sequence similarity to Ced-3 protein of Caenorhabditis elegans. These proteases have been found to contribute significantly to the morphological and biochemical manifestations of apoptotic cell death. Caspases are translated as inactive zymogens and become active after specific cleavage. Of the 14 identified caspases, caspase-3 appears to be the major effector of neuronal apoptosis induced by a variety of stimuli. A role for caspase-3 in injury-induced neuronal cell death has been established using semispecific peptide caspase inhibitors. This article reviews the current literature relating to pathways regulating caspase activation in apoptosis associated with acute and chronic neurodegeneration, and suggests that identification of critical upstream caspase regulatory mechanisms may permit more effective treatment of such disorders.

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