On the role of 4-hydroxynonenal in health and disease

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2015 May;1852(5):826-38. doi: 10.1016/j.bbadis.2015.01.015. Epub 2015 Jan 30.


Polyunsaturated fatty acids are susceptible to peroxidation and they yield various degradation products, including the main α,β-unsaturated hydroxyalkenal, 4-hydroxy-2,3-trans-nonenal (HNE) in oxidative stress. Due to its high reactivity, HNE interacts with various macromolecules of the cell, and this general toxicity clearly contributes to a wide variety of pathological conditions. In addition, growing evidence suggests a more specific function of HNE in electrophilic signaling as a second messenger of oxidative/electrophilic stress. It can induce antioxidant defense mechanisms to restrain its own production and to enhance the cellular protection against oxidative stress. Moreover, HNE-mediated signaling can largely influence the fate of the cell through modulating major cellular processes, such as autophagy, proliferation and apoptosis. This review focuses on the molecular mechanisms underlying the signaling and regulatory functions of HNE. The role of HNE in the pathophysiology of cancer, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases is also discussed.

Keywords: 4-Hydroxynonenal; Electrophilic stress; Lipid peroxidation; Nrf2; Proteostasis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aldehydes / chemistry
  • Aldehydes / metabolism*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / metabolism
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Cell Physiological Phenomena / physiology*
  • Disease*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Structure
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / metabolism
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / physiopathology
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Aldehydes
  • 4-hydroxy-2-nonenal