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Trends Neurosci. 2012 Nov;35(11):700-9. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2012.06.004. Epub 2012 Jul 14.

Caspase-3 in the central nervous system: beyond apoptosis.

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Istituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico, S. Lucia Foundation, via del Fosso di Fiorano 65, 00143 Rome, Italy.


Caspase-3 has been identified as a key mediator of neuronal programmed cell death. This protease plays a central role in the developing nervous system and its activation is observed early in neural tube formation and persists during postnatal differentiation of the neural network. Caspase-3 activation, a crucial event of neuronal cell death program, is also a feature of many chronic neurodegenerative diseases. This traditional apoptotic function of caspase-3 is challenged by recent studies that reveal new cell death-independent roles for mitochondrial-activated caspase-3 in neurite pruning and synaptic plasticity. These findings underscore the need for further research into the mechanism of action and functions of caspase-3 that may prove useful in the development of novel pharmacological treatments for a diverse range of neurological disorders.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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