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Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2010, 11(6), 2306-2321; doi:10.3390/ijms11062306

An Antiapoptotic Neuroprotective Role for Neuroglobin

1,* , 1
1 School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland, 3 Symonds Street, Auckland, NZ, USA 2 Department of Biomedical Engineering, 451 Health Sciences Drive, University of California, Davis, CA, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 10 May 2010 / Revised: 24 May 2010 / Accepted: 24 May 2010 / Published: 27 May 2010
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neuroprotective Strategies (special issue))
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Cell death associated with mitochondrial dysfunction is common in acute neurological disorders and in neurodegenerative diseases. Neuronal apoptosis is regulated by multiple proteins, including neuroglobin, a small heme protein of ancient origin. Neuroglobin is found in high concentration in some neurons, and its high expression has been shown to promote survival of neurons in vitro and to protect brain from damage by both stroke and Alzheimer’s disease in vivo. Early studies suggested this protective role might arise from the protein’s capacity to bind oxygen or react with nitric oxide. Recent data, however, suggests that neither of these functions is likely to be of physiological significance. Other studies have shown that neuroglobin reacts very rapidly with cytochrome c released from mitochondria during cell death, thus interfering with the intrinsic pathway of apoptosis. Systems level computational modelling suggests that the physiological role of neuroglobin is to reset the trigger level for the post-mitochondrial execution of apoptosis. An understanding of the mechanism of action of neuroglobin might thus provide a rational basis for the design of new drug targets for inhibiting excessive neuronal cell death.
Keywords: neuroglobin; apoptosis; mitochondria; cytochrome c; systems biology neuroglobin; apoptosis; mitochondria; cytochrome c; systems biology
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Brittain, T.; Skommer, J.; Raychaudhuri, S.; Birch, N. An Antiapoptotic Neuroprotective Role for Neuroglobin. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2010, 11, 2306-2321.

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