The complexity of the Nrf2 pathway: Beyond the antioxidant response

Ying Huang, Wenji Li, Zheng yuan Su, Ah Ng Tony Kong

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

191 Scopus citations


The NF-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2)-mediated signalling pathway provides living organisms an efficient and pivotal line of defensive to counteract environmental insults and endogenous stressors. Nrf2 coordinates the basal and inducible expression of antioxidant and Phase II detoxification enzymes to adapt to different stress conditions. The stability and cellular distribution of Nrf2 is tightly controlled by its inhibitory binding protein Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1. Nrf2 signalling is also regulated by posttranslational, transcriptional, translational and epigenetic mechanisms, as well as by other protein partners, including p62, p21 and IQ motif-containing GTPase activating protein 1. Many studies have demonstrated that Nrf2 is a promising target for preventing carcinogenesis and other chronic diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative diseases and pulmonary injury. However, constitutive activation of Nrf2 in advanced cancer cells may confer drug resistance. Here, we review the molecular mechanisms of Nrf2 signalling, the diverse classes of Nrf2 activators, including bioactive nutrients and other chemicals, and the cellular functions and disease relevance of Nrf2 and discuss the dual role of Nrf2 in different contexts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1401-1413
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Nutritional Biochemistry
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Clinical Biochemistry


  • Activator
  • Antioxidant
  • Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (Keap1)
  • NF-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2)
  • Nutrients
  • ROS


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