Autophagy and neuronal cell death in neurological disorders.

Center for Dementia Research, Nathan S. Kline Institute, Orangeburg, New York 10962.
Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in biology (Impact Factor: 8.23). 09/2012; 4(10). DOI: 10.1101/cshperspect.a008839
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Autophagy is implicated in the pathogenesis of major neurodegenerative disorders although concepts about how it influences these diseases are still evolving. Once proposed to be mainly an alternative cell death pathway, autophagy is now widely viewed as both a vital homeostatic mechanism in healthy cells and as an important cytoprotective response mobilized in the face of aging- and disease-related metabolic challenges. In Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Huntington's, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and other diseases, impairment at different stages of autophagy leads to the buildup of pathogenic proteins and damaged organelles, while defeating autophagy's crucial prosurvival and antiapoptotic effects on neurons. The differences in the location of defects within the autophagy pathway and their molecular basis influence the pattern and pace of neuronal cell death in the various neurological disorders. Future therapeutic strategies for these disorders will be guided in part by understanding the manifold impact of autophagy disruption on neurodegenerative diseases.

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