Role of mTOR in physiology and pathology of the nervous system

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2008 Jan;1784(1):116-32. doi: 10.1016/j.bbapap.2007.08.015. Epub 2007 Aug 24.


Mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is a serine-threonine protein kinase that regulates several intracellular processes in response to extracellular signals, nutrient availability, energy status of the cell and stress. mTOR regulates survival, differentiation and development of neurons. Axon growth and navigation, dendritic arborization, as well as synaptogenesis, depend on proper mTOR activity. In adult brain mTOR is crucial for synaptic plasticity, learning and memory formation, and brain control of food uptake. Recent studies reveal that mTOR activity is modified in various pathologic states of the nervous system, including brain tumors, tuberous sclerosis, cortical displasia and neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's diseases. This review presents current knowledge about the role of mTOR in the physiology and pathology of the nervous system, with special focus on molecular targets acting downstream of mTOR that potentially contribute to neuronal development, plasticity and neuropathology.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Nervous System / enzymology
  • Nervous System / metabolism*
  • Nervous System Diseases / enzymology
  • Nervous System Diseases / metabolism*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / enzymology
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / metabolism*
  • Neurons / enzymology
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / metabolism
  • Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Sirolimus / metabolism
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases


  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Protein Kinases
  • MTOR protein, human
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Sirolimus