Send to

Choose Destination
IUBMB Life. 2006 Apr;58(4):185-91.

Novel neuroprotective, neuritogenic and anti-amyloidogenic properties of 2,4-dinitrophenol: the gentle face of Janus.

Author information

Instituto de Bioquímica Médica, Programa de Bioquímica e Biofísica Celular, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


In Roman mythology, Janus was the god of gates, doors, beginnings and endings. He was usually depicted with two faces looking in opposite directions. Janus was frequently used to symbolize change and transitions, such as the progression from past to future or from one viewpoint to another. 2,4-dinitrophenol (DNP) and other nitrophenols have long been known to be toxic at high concentrations (the 'bad' face of DNP), an effect that appears essentially related to interference with cellular energy metabolism due to uncoupling of mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation. Five years ago, however, we published the first report showing that low concentrations of DNP protect neurons against the toxicity of the amyloid-beta peptide (De Felice et al. (2001) FASEB J. 15:1297 - 1299]. Since then, other studies have provided evidence of beneficial actions of DNP (at low concentrations), including neuroprotection against different types of insult, blockade of amyloid aggregation, stimulation of neurite outgrowth and neuronal differentiation, and even extension of lifespan in certain organisms. Some of these effects appear to be due to mild mitochondrial uncoupling and prevention of cellular oxidative stress, whereas other actions are related to activation of additional intracellular signaling pathways. Thus, a novel and 'gentle' face of DNP is emerging from such studies. In this review, we discuss both toxic and beneficial actions of DNP. The evidence available so far suggests that DNP and other compounds with similar biological activities may be of significant interest to the development of novel therapeutic approaches for neurodegenerative diseases and other neurological disorders.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center