Signaling via NF-kappaB in the nervous system

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2005 Sep 30;1745(3):287-99. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamcr.2005.05.009.


Nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kappaB) is an inducible transcription factor present in neurons and glia. Recent genetic models identified a role for NF-kappaB in neuroprotection against various neurotoxins. Furthermore, genetic evidence for a role in learning and memory is now emerging. This review highlights our current understanding of neuronal NF-kappaB in response to synaptic transmission and summarizes potential physiological functions of NF-kappaB in the nervous system. This article contains a listing of NF-kappaB activators and inhibitors in the nervous system, furthermore specific target genes are discussed. Synaptic NF-kappaB activated by glutamate and Ca2+ will be presented in the context of retrograde signaling. A controversial role of NF-kappaB in neurodegenerative diseases will be discussed. A model is proposed explaining this paradox as deregulated physiological NF-kappaB activity, where novel results are integrated, showing that p65 could be turned from an activator to a repressor of anti-apoptotic genes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Learning / physiology
  • Memory / physiology
  • Models, Biological*
  • NF-kappa B / antagonists & inhibitors
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism*
  • NF-kappa B / physiology
  • Nervous System Physiological Phenomena*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*


  • NF-kappa B