Neuroglobin, estrogens, and neuroprotection

Elisabetta De Marinis, Maria Marino, Paolo Ascenzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Globins have been found in glial cells and neurons of invertebrates and vertebrates. The first nerve globin has been recognized in the nerve cord of the polychaete annelid Aphrodite aculeata in 1872. In some invertebrates, the nerve globin reaches a millimolar concentration which is likely sufficient to sustain the aerobic metabolism and thus the excitability of the nervous system. In 2000, the first vertebrate nerve globin, named neuroglobin (Ngb), has been identified in neuronal tissues of mice and humans. In contrast to invertebrate nerve globins, the concentration of Ngb, the prototype of vertebrate nerve globins, is low (μM), reaching a maximum of 100 μM in retina cells. Therefore, Ngb appears unlikely to act primarily as an O2 buffer and to facilitate O2 diffusion to the mitochondria. Indeed, Ngb has been hypothesized to catalyze the formation/decomposition of reactive nitrogen and/or oxygen species and to be part of intracellular signaling pathways enhancing cell survival. Here, we report that neuronal Ngb levels are strongly induced by the steroid hormone 17β-estradiol. Furthermore, Ngb participates to mechanisms involved in 17β-estradiol-induced protective effects against H2O2-induced neurotoxicity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)140-145
Number of pages6
JournalIUBMB Life
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011


  • 17β-estradiol
  • apoptosis
  • estrogen receptor
  • HO neurotoxicity
  • nerve globins
  • neuroglobin
  • neuroprotection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics

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  • Cite this

    De Marinis, E., Marino, M., & Ascenzi, P. (2011). Neuroglobin, estrogens, and neuroprotection. IUBMB Life, 63(3), 140-145.