The mechanistic (or mammalian) target of rapamycin (mTOR) and the adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK) regulate cell survival and metabolism in response to diverse stimuli such as variations in amino acid content, changes in cellular bioenergetics, oxygen levels, neurotrophic factors and xenobiotics. This Opinion paper aims to discuss the current state of knowledge regarding how mTOR and AMPK regulate the metabolism and survival of brain cells and the close interrelationship between both signaling cascades. It is now clear that both mTOR and AMPK pathways regulate cellular homeostasis at multiple levels. Studies so far demonstrate that dysregulation in these two pathways is associated with neuronal injury, degeneration and neurotoxicity, but the mechanisms involved remain unclear. Most of the work so far has been focused on their antagonistic regulation of autophagy, but recent findings highlight that changes in protein synthesis, metabolism and mitochondrial function are likely to play a role in the regulatory effects of both mTOR and AMPK on neuronal health. Understanding their role and relationship between these two master regulators of cell metabolism is crucial for future therapeutic approaches to counteract alterations in cell metabolism and survival in brain injury and disease.
- Adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase
- Cell death
- Energy failure
- Mammalian target of rapamycin
- Nutrient deprivation
ASJC Scopus subject areas