The signaling pathways which contribute to neuronal death during development, aging and disease have been extensively studied. While initial efforts focused on developmental death, increasing evidence suggests that mitogenactivated protein kinase pathways play a role in human pathology. In particular, the c-Jun N-terminal kinases (JNKs), mitogen- activated protein kinases activated by extracellular stimuli including stress, are a major focus. Knock-out mouse studies have demonstrated that removing particular JNK genes can reduce the severity in various disease scenarios, including those which are used to model Parkinsons disease and cerebral ischemia. In addition, activation of JNKs can be seen in human disease tissue. In this review we bring together the evidence for JNK being an important regulator of neuronal loss and outline the advancement of small molecule inhibitors for future therapeutic intervention.
Keywords: Mitogen-activated protein kinase, c-Jun N-terminal kinase, phosphorylation, neurodegeneration, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, neuroprotection
Rights & PermissionsPrintExport