Targeting the unfolded protein response in disease

Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2013 Sep;12(9):703-19. doi: 10.1038/nrd3976.


Stress induced by the accumulation of unfolded proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is a feature of specialized secretory cells and is also observed in many diseases, including cancer, diabetes, autoimmune conditions, liver disorders, obesity and neurodegenerative disorders. Cellular adaptation to ER stress is achieved by the activation of the unfolded protein response, which is an integrated signal transduction pathway that modulates many aspects of ER physiology. When these mechanisms of adaptation are insufficient to handle the unfolded protein load, cells undergo apoptosis. Here, we discuss recent advances in the design of novel compounds and therapeutic strategies to manipulate levels of ER stress in disease.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / physiology
  • Drug Design*
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / drug effects
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / metabolism
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / pathology
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Unfolded Protein Response / drug effects*