Metallothioneins and brain injury: What transgenic mice tell us

Juan Hidalgo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


In rodents, the metallothionein (MT) family is composed of four members, MT-1 to MT-4. MT-1&2 are expressed in virtually all tissues including those of the Central Nervous System (CNS), while MT-3 (also called Growth Inhibitory Factor) and MT-4 are expressed prominently in the brain and in keratinizing epithelia, respectively. For the understanding of the physiological functions of these proteins in the brain, the use of transgenic mice has provided essential information. Results obtained in MT-1&2-null mice and in MT-1-overexpressing mice strongly suggest that these MT isoforms are important antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antiapoptotic proteins in the brain. Results in MT-3-null mice show a very different pattern, with no support for MT-1&2-like functions. Rather, MT-3 could be involved in neuronal sprouting and survival. Results obtained in a model of peripheral nervous system injury also suggest that MT-3 could be involved in the control of nerve growth.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-94
JournalEnvironmental Health and Preventive Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2004


  • Brain injury
  • Cytokines
  • Metallothionein
  • Oxidative stress
  • Transgenic mice


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