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Papers of the Week

2022 Aug 17

Exp Mol Med

The Nrf2 antioxidant defense system in intervertebral disc degeneration: Molecular insights.


Xiang Q, Zhao Y, Lin J, Jiang S, Li W
Exp Mol Med. 2022 Aug 17.
PMID: 35978054.


Intervertebral disc degeneration (IDD) is a common degenerative musculoskeletal disorder and is recognized as a major contributor to discogenic lower back pain. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying IDD remain unclear, and therapeutic strategies for IDD are currently limited. Oxidative stress plays pivotal roles in the pathogenesis and progression of many age-related diseases in humans, including IDD. Nuclear factor E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) is a master antioxidant transcription factor that protects cells against oxidative stress damage. Nrf2 is negatively modulated by Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (Keap1) and exerts important effects on IDD progression. Accumulating evidence has revealed that Nrf2 can facilitate the transcription of downstream antioxidant genes in disc cells by binding to antioxidant response elements (AREs) in promoter regions, including heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), glutathione (GSH), superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), and NADPH quinone dehydrogenase 1 (NQO1). The Nrf2 antioxidant defense system regulates cell apoptosis, senescence, extracellular matrix (ECM) metabolism, the inflammatory response of the nucleus pulposus (NP), and calcification of the cartilaginous endplates (EP) in IDD. In this review, we aim to discuss the current knowledge on the roles of Nrf2 in IDD systematically.