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Pharm Res. 2010 Jun;27(6):999-1013. doi: 10.1007/s11095-010-0096-8. Epub 2010 Mar 31.

Nrf2-Keap1 signaling as a potential target for chemoprevention of inflammation-associated carcinogenesis.

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College of Pharmacy, Seoul National University, 599 Kwanak-ro, Kwanak-ku, Seoul 151-742, South Korea.


Persistent inflammatory tissue damage is causally associated with each stage of carcinogenesis. Inflammation-induced generation of reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, and other reactive species not only cause DNA damage and subsequently mutations, but also stimulate proliferation of initiated cells and even metastasis and angiogenesis. Induction of cellular cytoprotective enzymes (e.g., heme oxygenase-1, NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase, superoxide dismutase, glutathione-S-transferase, etc.) has been shown to mitigate aforementioned events implicated in inflammation-induced carcinogenesis. A unique feature of genes encoding these cytoprotective enzymes is the presence of a cis-acting element, known as antioxidant response element (ARE) or electrophile response element (EpRE), in their promoter region. A stress-responsive transcription factor, nuclear factor erythroid-2-related factor-2 (Nrf2), initially recognized as a key transcriptional regulator of various cytoprotective enzymes, is known to play a pivotal role in cellular defense against inflammatory injuries. Activation of Nrf2 involves its release from the cytosolic repressor Kelch-like ECH-associated protein-1 (Keap1) and subsequent stabilization and nuclear localization for ARE/EpRE binding. Genetic or pharmacologic inactivation of Nrf2 has been shown to abolish cytoprotective capability and to aggravate experimentally induced inflammatory injuries. Thus, Nrf2-mediated cytoprotective gene induction is an effective strategy for the chemoprevention of inflammation-associated carcinogenesis.

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