Abstract

Ferroptosis is an iron- and lipid peroxidation-dependent cell death modality and emerging evidence indicates that ferroptosis has great explanatory potential for neuronal loss and associated CNS dysfunction in a range of neurodegenerative diseases (e.g., Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases, Motor neuron disease, Friedreich ataxia (FRDA)). Ferroptotic death results from lethal levels of phospholipid hydroperoxides that are generated by iron-dependent peroxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), such as arachidonic and adrenic acids, which are conjugated to specific phospholipids (e.g., phosphatidylethanolamines (PEs)). The major cellular protector against ferroptosis is glutathione peroxidase 4 (GPX4), a membrane-associated selenoenzyme that reduces deleterious phospholipid hydroperoxides to their corresponding benign phospholipid alcohols in a glutathione-dependent manner. Other complementary protective systems have also been identified that act to bolster cellular defences against ferroptosis. Many pharmacological modulators of the ferroptosis pathway have been identified, targeting proteins involved in iron homoeostasis and autophagy; the production and detoxification of lipid peroxides, and cyst(e)ine/glutathione metabolism. While a growing number of cell signalling pathways converge to regulate the ferroptosis cascade, an emerging understanding of ferroptosis regulation suggests that the ferroptotic ‘tone’ of cells can be set by the transcription factor, nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (NRF2), which transcriptionally controls many key components of the ferroptosis pathway. In this review, we provide a critical overview of the relationship between ferroptosis and NRF2 signalling. With a focus on the role of ferroptosis in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), we discuss how therapeutic modulation of the NRF2 pathway is a viable strategy to explore in the treatment of ferroptosis-driven neurodegeneration.

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