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CNS Neurol Disord Drug Targets. 2010 Mar;9(1):120-7.

Raf inhibitors as therapeutic agents against neurodegenerative diseases.

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  • 1Bay Pines VA Healthcare System, Bay Pines, FL 33744, USA.


The active form of the serine/threonine kinase cRaf-1 is upregulated postmortem in the brains of Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients and in transgenic mouse models of AD pathology. The persistent activation of cRaf-1 can activate the proinflammatory factor NFkappaB and consequently, upregulate the expression of several of its downstream factors such as the amyloid precursor protein (APP), Cox-2 and iNOS. These factors have been found upregulated in numerous neurodegenerative conditions including AD, epilepsy, brain trauma, and psychological stress. The Raf kinase inhibitors, GW5074 and ZM336372, are neuroprotective against many different neurotoxic insults in vitro, including the Abeta peptide, glutamate and glutathione depletion. Recently, we have reported that the multi-kinase and potent Raf inhibitor sorafenib reversed memory impairment and reduced the expression of APP, Cox-2, and iNOS in the brain of the transgenic mouse model of AD, APPswe. Similar improvement of behavioral outcome was attained after acute treatment with GW5074 in a mouse model of Huntington's disease. Several Raf inhibitors have been developed to treat aggressive forms of cancer showing an upregulation of Raf kinases. These Raf inhibitors offer a great promise as therapeutic tools against neurological disorders. The negative and positive aspects of these inhibitors as anti-neurodegenerative agents are discussed.

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