Nrf2 Week #1: Targeting

It’s been a while since I curated Nrf2 research. Read almost a dozen relevant 2023 papers last week. Let’s begin with an opinion paper by a highly qualified researcher:

“The inducible transcription factor nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (NRF2) regulates expression of several hundred genes encoding proteins with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, drug metabolising, and other homeostatic functions. Through its transcriptional targets, NRF2 activation orchestrates a comprehensive and long-lasting protection that allows adaptation and survival under diverse forms of cellular and organismal stress.

We highlight three NRF2 activators that have progressed furthest in clinical development. Overall outcomes of clinical trials with sulforaphane-rich preparations have strengthened preclinical evidence that sulforaphane has the potential to prevent toxic and neoplastic effects of environmental carcinogens, as well as to ameliorate conditions characterised by chronic oxidative, metabolic, and inflammatory stress.

Anti-inflammatory effects of most electrophilic NRF2 activators are partly NRF2-independent, and include inhibition of other inflammatory mediators. The majority of non-electrophilic PPI inhibitors are less potent in activating NRF2 in cellular systems than the electrophilic sulforaphane.

It remains to be shown that measurement of NRF2 activation in blood samples can reflect modulation of the pathway in target tissues. The field has yet to reach a consensus on the best approach for monitoring NRF2 activation in humans, including selection of the optimal panel of gene/protein targets.

Even after a single dose of an NRF2 activator, increased levels of the actual protectors (i.e., the downstream transcriptional targets of NRF2) persist over long periods of time (days), exceeding the half-life (hours) of the drug.

target disease

In certain contexts, the role of NRF2 is complex and cell-type-specific, for example, in mouse models of atherosclerosis. Considering that NRF2 activation functions to:

  • Restore cellular redox and protein homeostasis;
  • Preserve mitochondrial function; and
  • Inhibit inflammation.

Perhaps the most logical disease areas are neurological conditions where all of these processes contribute to survival of neurons and astrocytes, as well as metabolic disease and cancer prevention.” “Advances and challenges in therapeutic targeting of NRF2”



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