Although originally considered a structural component of gap junctions, connexin hemichannels (HCs) are now recognized as functional entities capable of influencing metabolic gradients within the CNS, allowing direct communication between the intraand extracellular milieus. Besides connexins, HCs can also be formed by pannexins, which are not capable of gap junction assembly. Both positive and negative effects have been attributed to HC activity in the context of neurodegenerative diseases. For example, HCs can exert neuroprotective effects by promoting the uptake of neurotoxic molecules, whereas chronic HC opening can disrupt molecular gradients leading to cellular dysfunction and death. The latter scenario has been suggested for multiple neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer's disease (AD) and more recently, lysosomal storage disorders, which are the focus of this perspective. Currently available evidence suggests a complex role for HCs in neurodegenerative disorders, which sets the stage for future studies to determine whether targeting HC action may improve disease outcomes.
- Alzheimer's disease
- Lysosomal storage disease
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience