This review focuses on the neurobiology of integrins, pathophysiological roles of integrins in neuroplasticity and nervous system disorders, and therapeutic implications of integrins as potential drug targets and possible delivery pathways. Neuroplasticity is a central phenomenon in many neurological conditions such as seizures, trauma, and traumatic brain injury. During the course of many brain diseases, in addition to intracellular compartment changes, alterations in non-cell compartments such as extracellular matrix (ECM) are recognized as an essential process in forming and reorganizing neural connections. Integrins are heterodimeric transmembrane receptors that mediate cell-ECM and cell-cell adhesion events. Although the mechanisms of neuroplasticity remain unclear, it has been suggested that integrins undergo plasticity including clustering through interactions with ECM proteins, modulating ion channels, intracellular Ca(2+) and protein kinase signaling, and reorganization of cytoskeletal filaments. As cell surface receptors, integrins are central to the pathophysiology of many brain diseases, such as epilepsy, and are potential targets for the development of new drugs for neurological disorders.
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