Oxidative stress in the brain: novel cellular targets that govern survival during neurodegenerative disease

Prog Neurobiol. 2005 Feb;75(3):207-46. doi: 10.1016/j.pneurobio.2005.02.004. Epub 2005 Apr 26.


Despite our present knowledge of some of the cellular pathways that modulate central nervous system injury, complete therapeutic prevention or reversal of acute or chronic neuronal injury has not been achieved. The cellular mechanisms that precipitate these diseases are more involved than initially believed. As a result, identification of novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of cellular injury would be extremely beneficial to reduce or eliminate disability from nervous system disorders. Current studies have begun to focus on pathways of oxidative stress that involve a variety of cellular pathways. Here we discuss novel pathways that involve the generation of reactive oxygen species and oxidative stress, apoptotic injury that leads to nuclear degradation in both neuronal and vascular populations, and the early loss of cellular membrane asymmetry that mitigates inflammation and vascular occlusion. Current work has identified exciting pathways, such as the Wnt pathway and the serine-threonine kinase Akt, as central modulators that oversee cellular apoptosis and their downstream substrates that include Forkhead transcription factors, glycogen synthase kinase-3beta, mitochondrial dysfunction, Bad, and Bcl-x(L). Other closely integrated pathways control microglial activation, release of inflammatory cytokines, and caspase and calpain activation. New therapeutic avenues that are just open to exploration, such as with brain temperature regulation, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide modulation, metabotropic glutamate system modulation, and erythropoietin targeted expression, may provide both attractive and viable alternatives to treat a variety of disorders that include stroke, Alzheimer's disease, and traumatic brain injury.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Cell Survival / physiology
  • Humans
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / metabolism*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / pathology*
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology*