Mounting evidence suggests that impairment in iron-sulfur cluster biosynthesis and iron accumulation in the mitochondria increase oxidative stress susceptibility and reactive oxygen species production in Friedreich's ataxia (FA). The FA pathologic picture is worsened by a defective regulation of the expression and signaling pathway modulation of the transcription factor NF-E2 p45-related factor 2 (NRF2), one of the fundamental mediators of the cellular antioxidant response. NRF2 protein downregulation and impairment of its nuclear translocation can compromise the adequate cellular response to the frataxin depletion-dependent redox imbalance. As NRF2 stability, expression, and activation can be modulated by diverse natural and synthetic compounds, efforts have been made in recent years to understand if regulating NRF2 signaling might ameliorate the pathologic defects in FA. Here the authors provide an analysis of the pharmaceutical interventions aimed at restoring the NRF2 signaling network in FA, elucidating specific biomarkers useful for monitoring therapeutic effectiveness, and developing new therapeutic tools.
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