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J Alzheimers Dis. 2005 Nov;8(2):93-108; discussion 209-15.

Zinc dyshomeostasis: a key modulator of neuronal injury.

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Department of Neurology, CESI-Center for Excellence on Aging, University G. d'Annunzio, Chieti, 66013, Italy.


Zn2+ is a potently toxic cation involved in the neuronal injury observed in cerebral ischemia, epilepsy, and brain trauma. Toxic Zn2+ accumulation may result from either trans-synaptic Zn2+movement and/or cation mobilization from intracellular sites. To gain entry to the cytosol, Zn2+ can flux through glutamate receptor-associated channels, voltage-sensitive calcium channels, or Zn2+-sensitive membrane transporters, while metallothioneins and mitochondria provide sites of intracellular Zn2+ release. Intracellular Zn2+ homeostasis is sensitive to patho-physiological environmental changes, such as acidosis, inflammation and oxidative stress. The mechanisms by which Zn2+ exerts its neurotoxicity include mitochondrial and extra-mitochondrial production of reactive oxygen species and disruption of metabolic enzymatic activity, ultimately leading to activation of apoptotic and/or necrotic processes. Beside acute neuronal injury, an exciting new area of investigation is offered by the role of Zn2+ dysmetabolism in Alzheimer's disease as the cation acts as a potent trigger for Abeta aggregation and plaque formation. Finally, recent findings suggest that alteration of Zn2+ homeostasis might also be a critical contributor to aging-related neurodegenerative processes. Thus, multiple evidence suggest that modulation of intracellular and extracellular Zn2+ might be an important therapeutical target for the treatment of a vast array of neurological conditions ranging from stroke to Alzheimer's disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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