ISSN 1214-0287 (on-line), ISSN 1214-021X (printed)
J Appl Biomed
Volume 9 (2011), No 4, p 173-183
DOI 10.2478/v10136-011-0013-4

Neurodegenerative diseases and neuroprotection: current views and prospects

Andre Nieoullon

Address: Andre Nieoullon, Institut de Biologie du Developpement de Marseille-Luminy (IBDML) CNRS, Aix-Marseille Universite, UMR6216, 13288 Marseille cedex 9, France
andre.nieoullon@univmed.fr

Received 20th July 2011.
Revised 16th August 2011.
Published online 9th September 2011.

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SUMMARY
Most of the pathophysiological processes of neurodegenerative diseases share the aggregation of related proteins which is one of the hallmarks of the degenerative processes. Recent advances in the knowledge of these proteinopathies show that the same protein could contribute to a number of diseases, thus suggesting a common pathological process. If this is so, specific instances of the brain neuronal system targeted by protein dysfunction could be a sign of a differential clinical expression rather than different pathological processes. This very stimulating view of the neurodegenerative diseases based on physiopathology has led us to suggest that possible degenerative mechanisms may be shared by different diseases although the causes of the disease itself still remain unclear. Since genetic forms of the degenerative diseases are rather rare, exploring the involvement of genes is one current way of researching the degenerative process of the disease. It is has thus been speculated that idiopathic forms of the diseases are related to close interactions between genetic and environmental factors; the genetic component being able to favour - or perhaps, to protect against - the disease process. Because of the current view that the basic mechanism of cell death in degenerative diseases is related to a rather limited number of processes in which oxidative stress could play a central role resulting in protein dysfunction and aggregation, one can speculate that there are neuroprotective medicines soon to be proposed based on the active limitation of protein accumulation in the brain.

KEY WORDS
neurodegenerative diseases; proteinopathies; Alzheimer's disease; Parkinson's disease; oxidative stress; proteasome; neuroprotection

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