Metallothionein in Brain Disorders

Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2017;2017:5828056. doi: 10.1155/2017/5828056. Epub 2017 Sep 20.


Metallothioneins are a family of proteins which are able to bind metals intracellularly, so their main function is to regulate the cellular metabolism of essential metals. There are 4 major isoforms of MTs (I-IV), three of which have been localized in the central nervous system. MT-I and MT-II have been localized in the spinal cord and brain, mainly in astrocytes, whereas MT-III has been found mainly in neurons. MT-I and MT-II have been considered polyvalent proteins whose main function is to maintain cellular homeostasis of essential metals such as zinc and copper, but other functions have also been considered: detoxification of heavy metals, regulation of gene expression, processes of inflammation, and protection against free radicals generated by oxidative stress. On the other hand, the MT-III has been related in events of pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson and Alzheimer. Likewise, the participation of MTs in other neurological disorders has also been reported. This review shows recent evidence about the role of MT in the central nervous system and its possible role in neurodegenerative diseases as well as in brain disorders.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Diseases / genetics*
  • Brain Diseases / metabolism
  • Brain Diseases / pathology
  • Metallothionein / metabolism*
  • Rats


  • Metallothionein