Neurodegenerative disorders: from molecules to man (part 1)

    Risultato della ricerca: Other contribution

    Abstract

    Neurons are typically post-mitotic cells. This means that they are expected to have a life span comparable to that of theircarriers. Unfortunately, sometimes, they die prematurely as a result of complex processes known as “neurodegeneration”.Neurodegenerative diseases are now generally considered a group of disorders that seriously and progressively impair thefunctions of the nervous system through causing the selective neuronal vulnerability of specific brain regions.Neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's disease (PD), Alzheimer Disease (AD), Multiple Sclerosis (MS), and priondisease represent several distinct categories of disease and each manifests its own unique symptoms. However, the diseasesshare several common features, particularly the aggregation and deposition of abnormal proteins. Neurodegenerative disordersare associated with high morbidity, and few or no effective treatments have been available until now. Neurodegenerativediseases represent a threat to mankind in a variety of guises and induce chronic suffering and debilitation in about 2% of theworldwide population. Moreover, the increase in lifespan of western populations will mean that these neurodegenerativediseases will become more common. Consequently, it is estimated that the number of PD patients will double to between 8.7and 9.3 million by 2030. As a group, these disorders are a major burden on health care systems compared with other causes ofdeath and the costs of treatment are expected to rise sharply. Despite the enormous amount of progress we have made in termsof understanding the aetiologies of these diseases in the last few years, important questions remain unanswered. This specialnumber deals with this hot topic and is produced by leading groups in the neuroscience field with the aim of summarizingrecent advances in genetic, epideniological, molecular and cellular biology research that have increased our knowledge of themechanisms that give rise to degenerative processes and, in general, to alterations of the structure and function of the nervoussystem. These contributions give insight into new pharmacological therapies for their treatment and review new and old drugsaimed at interrupting or at attenuating different pathogenic pathways of neurodegeneration and/or at ameliorating symptoms.The pharmaceutical industry faces arguably its most difficult challenge in attempting to develop therapeutics forneurodegenerative disease. The development of disease-modifying therapeutics that addresses the principal causes ofneurodegenerative disease is still in its infancy.de Lago and Fernández-Ruiz provide an extensive description of the neuroprotective properties of cannabinoids. They focustheir review on the cellular and molecular mechanisms through which cannabinoids might arrest/delay the degeneration ofspecific neuronal subpopulations in neurodegenerative disorders such as PD, HD, multiple sclerosis (MS) and other motorrelateddisorders. The potential use of cannabinoid agonists as novel therapeutic options is based on their antioxidant, antiinflammatoryand anti-excitotoxic properties that allow them to afford neuroprotection in different disorders. Carnevale et al.review the current information on the reciprocal interactions between glia and neurons that are essential for many criticalfunctions in brain health and disease. Microglial cells, the brain resident macrophages, and astrocytes, the most prevalent typeof cell in brain, are actively involved in the control of neuronal activities both in developing and adult organisms. At the sametime, neurons inf
    Lingua originaleEnglish
    Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2007

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