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Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2012 Mar;33(3):129-37. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2011 Dec 13.

Heat shock response and insulin-associated neurodegeneration.

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Neuroscience Graduate Program, The University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045, USA.


Dysfunctional insulin and insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) signaling contributes to the pathological progression of diabetes, diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN), Alzheimer's (AD), Parkinson's (PD) and Huntington's diseases (HD). Despite their prevalence, there are limited therapeutic options available for the treatment of these neurodegenerative disorders. Therefore, establishing a link between insulin/IGF-I and the pathoetiology of these diseases may provide alternative approaches toward their management. Many of the heat shock proteins (Hsps) are well-known molecular chaperones that solubilize and clear damaged proteins and protein aggregates. Recent studies suggest that modulating Hsps may represent a promising therapeutic avenue for improving insulin and IGF-I signaling. Pharmacological induction of the heat shock response (HSR) may intersect with insulin/IGF-I signaling to improve aspects of neurodegenerative phenotypes. Herein, we review the intersection between Hsps and the insulin/IGF systems under normal and pathological conditions. The discussion will emphasize the potential of non-toxic HSR inducers as viable therapeutic agents.

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