The Nrf2-ARE Signalling pathway: promising drug target to combat oxidative stress in neurodegenerative disorders

Curr Drug Targets CNS Neurol Disord. 2005 Jun;4(3):267-81. doi: 10.2174/1568007054038238.


A large body of evidence indicates that oxidative stress is a salient pathological feature in many neurodegenerative diseases, including Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease. In addition to signs of systemic oxidative stress, at the biochemical and neuropathological level, neuronal degeneration in these disorders has been shown to coincide with several markers of oxidative damage to lipids, nucleic acids, and proteins in affected brain regions. Neuroinflammatory processes, often associated with the induction of free radical generating enzymes and the accumulation of reactive astrocytes and microglial cells, are considered as a major source of oxidative stress. Given the pathogenic impact of oxidative stress and neuroinflammation, therapeutic strategies aimed to blunt these processes are considered an effective way to confer neuroprotection. Recently, the nuclear transcription factor Nrf2, that binds to the antioxidant response element (ARE) in gene promoters, has been reported to constitute a key regulatory factor in the co-ordinate induction of a battery of endogenous cytoprotective genes, including those encoding for both antioxidant- and anti-inflammatory proteins. In the present review, besides discussing recent evidence underscoring the thesis that the Nrf2-ARE signalling pathway is an attractive therapeutic target for neurodegenerative diseases, we advocate the view that chemopreventive agents might be suitable candidates to serve as lead compounds for the development of a new class of neuroprotective drugs.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / drug therapy
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / drug therapy
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / metabolism*
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Drug Design
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology
  • Humans
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / drug therapy
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / metabolism*
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology*
  • Parkinson Disease / drug therapy
  • Parkinson Disease / metabolism
  • Response Elements / drug effects
  • Response Elements / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Trans-Activators / metabolism*
  • Transcription, Genetic / drug effects


  • Antioxidants
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2
  • NFE2L2 protein, human
  • Trans-Activators