Nrf2 for cardiac protection: pharmacological options against oxidative stress

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Myocardial ischemia or reperfusion increases the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) from damaged mitochondria, NADPH oxidases, xanthine oxidase, and inflammation. ROS can be removed by eight endogenous antioxidant and redox systems, many components of which are expressed under the influence of the activated Nrf2 transcription factor. Transcriptomic profiling, sequencing of Nrf2-bound DNA, and Nrf2 gene knockout studies have revealed the power of Nrf2 beyond the antioxidant and detoxification response, from tissue recovery, repair, and remodeling, mitochondrial turnover, and metabolic reprogramming to the suppression of proinflammatory cytokines. Multifaceted regulatory mechanisms for Nrf2 protein levels or activity have been mapped to its functional domains, Nrf2-ECH homology (Neh)1–7. Oxidative stress activates Nrf2 via nuclear translocation, de novo protein translation, and increased protein stability due to removal of the Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (Keap1) checkpoint, or the inactivation of β-transducin repeat-containing protein (β-TrCP), or Hmg-CoA reductase degradation protein 1 (Hrd1). The promise of small-molecule Nrf2 inducers from natural products or derivatives is discussed here. Experimental evidence is presented to support Nrf2 as a lead target for drug development to further improve the treatment outcome for myocardial infarction (MI).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)729-744
Number of pages16
JournalTrends in Pharmacological Sciences
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • inflammation
  • mitochondria
  • myocardial ischemia
  • reperfusion
  • small molecule
  • transcription factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology


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