Send to

Choose Destination
Metab Brain Dis. 2016 Jun;31(3):487-95. doi: 10.1007/s11011-016-9801-6. Epub 2016 Feb 5.

Neuron specific enolase: a promising therapeutic target in acute spinal cord injury.

Author information

Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Hollings Cancer Center, Medical University of South Carolina, 173 Ashley Avenue, BSB-201, Charleston, SC, 29425, USA.
Department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology, University of South Carolina School of Medicine, Columbia, SC, 29209, USA.
Department of Neurosurgery, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, 29425, USA.
Ralph H. Johnson Veterans Administration Medical Center, 109 Bee Street, Charleston, SC, 29401, USA.


Enolase is a multifunctional protein, which is expressed abundantly in the cytosol. Upon stimulatory signals, enolase can traffic to cell surface and contribute to different pathologies including injury, autoimmunity, infection, inflammation, and cancer. Cell-surface expression of enolase is often detected on activated macrophages, microglia/macrophages, microglia, and astrocytes, promoting extracellular matrix degradation, production of pro-inflammatory cytokines/chemokines, and invasion of inflammatory cells in the sites of injury and inflammation. Inflammatory stimulation also induces translocation of enolase from the cytosolic pool to the cell surface where it can act as a plasminogen receptor and promote extracellular matrix degradation and tissue damage. Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a devastating debilitating condition characterized by progressive pathological changes including complex and evolving molecular cascades, and insights into the role of enolase in multiple inflammatory events have not yet been fully elucidated. Neuronal damage following SCI is associated with an elevation of neuron specific enolase (NSE), which is also known to play a role in the pathogenesis of hypoxic-ischemic brain injury. Thus, NSE is now considered as a biomarker in ischemic brain damage, and it has recently been suggested to be a biomarker in traumatic brain injury (TBI), stroke and anoxic encephalopathy after cardiac arrest and acute SCI as well. This review article gives an overview of the current basic research and clinical studies on the role of multifunctional enolase in neurotrauma, with a special emphasis on NSE in acute SCI.


Inflammation; Major histocompatibility complex (MHC); Matrix metalloproteinase (MMP); Neuron specific enolase (NSE); Neuronal death; Plasmin; Spinal cord injury (SCI)

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Springer Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center