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Brain Res Rev. 2007 Dec;56(2):322-30. Epub 2007 Jul 27.

Therapeutic potential and biological role of endogenous antioxidant enzymes in multiple sclerosis pathology.

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Department of Molecular Cell Biology and Immunology, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Reactive oxygen species contribute to the formation and persistence of multiple sclerosis (MS) lesions by acting on distinct pathological processes. To counteract the detrimental effects of ROS the central nervous system is endowed with a protective mechanism consisting of enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidants. Expression of most antioxidant enzymes is regulated through the transcription factor nuclear factor-E2-related factor (Nrf2) and antioxidant response elements (ARE) in the genes encoding enzymatic antioxidants and is induced by oxidative stress. In brain tissue of MS patients, enhanced expression of Nrf2/ARE-regulated antioxidants is suggestive of the occurrence of oxidative stress in these lesions. Antioxidant therapy may therefore represent an attractive treatment of MS. Several studies have shown that antioxidant therapy is beneficial in vitro and in vivo in animal models for MS. However, the use of exogenous antioxidants for MS treatment has drawbacks, as large amounts of antioxidants are required to achieve functional antioxidant levels in the central nervous system. Therefore, the induction of endogenous antioxidant enzymes by activators of the Nrf2/ARE pathway may be an interesting approach to obtain sufficient levels of antioxidants to interfere with pathological processes underlying MS lesion formation. In this review we summarize and discuss the biological role, regulation and potential therapeutic effects of endogenous antioxidant enzymes in MS. We propose that antioxidants may inhibit the development and progression of MS lesions and may therefore represent an attractive therapeutic target for the treatment of MS and other oxidative stress-related neurological diseases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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