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Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2011 Apr;21(2):299-305. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2011.01.002. Epub 2011 Feb 1.

The influence of synaptic activity on neuronal health.

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Centre for Integrative Physiology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH8 9XD, UK.


According to the theory of neuronal health, neurons exist in a spectrum of states ranging from highly resilient to vulnerable. An unhealthy neuron may be rendered dysfunctional or non-viable by an insult that would ordinarily be non-toxic to a healthy neuron. Over the years it has become clear that a neuron's health is subject to dynamic regulation by electrical or synaptic activity. This review highlights recently identified activity dependent signalling events that boost neuronal health through the transcriptional control of pro-apoptotic and anti-apoptotic genes, the enhancement of antioxidant defences, and the regulation of mitochondrial and neurotrophic factor availability. Furthermore, activity dependent signals have recently been shown to influence a variety of events specific to individual neurodegenerative diseases, which will also be highlighted.

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