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Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology


ISSN (Print): 1389-2010
ISSN (Online): 1873-4316

Roles and Therapeutic Potential of Metallothioneins in Neurodegenerative Diseases

Author(s): Isao Hozumi

Volume 14 , Issue 4 , 2013

Page: [408 - 413] Pages: 6

DOI: 10.2174/1389201011314040004

Price: $65


Metallothionein (MT) is a small molecular and multi-functional protein containing four atoms of copper (Cu) and three atoms of zinc (Zn) per molecule. It was isolated from the horse kidney in 1957 and half a century has passed since then. Although MT was found to work as a modulator of Zn and induce anti-oxidant reaction, the precise functions and its functional mechanisms remain to be elucidated. Over the years, a new isoform of MT, MT-III (also called growth inhibitory factor (GIF)), has been found in the brain, which was markedly diminished in the brain of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Many new findings on MT have been discovered in neurodegenerative diseases other than AD such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s disease (PD), prion disease, brain trauma, brain ischemia, and psychiatric diseases. In ALS in particular, MTs were markedly diminished in the spinal cord of patients with ALS. Initially, MT, which easily binds to cadmium (Cd) and copper (Cu), was considered to be toxic to our bodies. Molecular biological technologies enabled the production of recombinant MT saturated with zinc (Zn). MT has a high potential for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS, AD, and PD owing to its various functions including anti-oxidant properties and modulators not only for Zn but for Cu in the extra- and intracellular spaces. On the other hand, there are still various problems on MT to be elucidated in detail, including their binding proteins and functional mechanisms.

Keywords: Metallothionein, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, Fahr’s Disease.

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