Normal and Pathological NRF2 Signalling in the Central Nervous System

Tony Heurtaux*, David S. Bouvier, Alexandre Benani, Sergio Helgueta Romero, Katrin B.M. Frauenknecht, Michel Mittelbronn, Lasse Sinkkonen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


The nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (NRF2) was originally described as a master regulator of antioxidant cellular response, but in the time since, numerous important biological functions linked to cell survival, cellular detoxification, metabolism, autophagy, proteostasis, inflammation, immunity, and differentiation have been attributed to this pleiotropic transcription factor that regulates hundreds of genes. After 40 years of in-depth research and key discoveries, NRF2 is now at the center of a vast regulatory network, revealing NRF2 signalling as increasingly complex. It is widely recognized that reactive oxygen species (ROS) play a key role in human physiological and pathological processes such as ageing, obesity, diabetes, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases. The high oxygen consumption associated with high levels of free iron and oxidizable unsaturated lipids make the brain particularly vulnerable to oxidative stress. A good stability of NRF2 activity is thus crucial to maintain the redox balance and therefore brain homeostasis. In this review, we have gathered recent data about the contribution of the NRF2 pathway in the healthy brain as well as during metabolic diseases, cancer, ageing, and ageing-related neurodegenerative diseases. We also discuss promising therapeutic strategies and the need for better understanding of cell-type-specific functions of NRF2 in these different fields.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1426
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jul 2022


  • ageing
  • cancer
  • diet
  • epigenetic regulation
  • glial cells
  • neurodegeneration
  • NRF2
  • reactive oxygen species


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