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Biochem Pharmacol. 1999 Jan 1;57(1):1-7.

Nuclear factor-kappaB/Rel proteins: a point of convergence of signalling pathways relevant in neuronal function and dysfunction.

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Schering-Plough Research Institute, San Raffaele Science Park, Milan, Italy.


Nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB)/Rel designates a family of transcription factors participating in the activation of a wide range of genes crucially involved in immune and inflammatory function. NF-kappaB/Rel proteins have been demonstrated recently in primary neurons and in several brain areas. Functional significance of these proteins is still not understood completely, but since certain subsets of neurons appear to contain constitutively active DNA-binding activity, it seems likely that they may participate in normal brain function. A growing body of evidence is accumulating for a specific activation of NF-kappaB/Rel proteins in the CNS, and in particular in neuronal cells, during neurodegenerative processes associated to etiologically unrelated conditions. Whether NF-kappaB activation is part of the neurodegenerative process or of protective mechanisms is a matter of debate. This issue will be reviewed here with particular attention to the available reports on the activity of NF-kappaB/Rel proteins in both experimental paradigms of neurodegeneration and post-mortem brain tissue of patients affected by various neurological diseases. We hypothesize that NF-kappaB/Rel proteins may represent the point of convergence of several signalling pathways relevant for initiating or accelerating the process of neuronal dysfunction and degeneration in many neurological diseases, including Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, CNS viral infections, and possibly others. If NF-kappaB/Rel proteins represent an integrating point of several pathways potentially contributing to neuronal degeneration, molecules that finely modulate their activity could represent a novel pharmacological approach to several neurological diseases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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