DNP, mitochondrial uncoupling, and neuroprotection: A little dab'll do ya

John G. Geisler, Krisztina Marosi, Joshua Halpern, Mark P. Mattson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Recent findings have elucidated roles for mitochondrial uncoupling proteins (UCPs) in neuronal plasticity and resistance to metabolic and oxidative stress. UCPs are induced by bioenergetic challenges such as caloric restriction and exercise and may protect neurons against dysfunction and degeneration. The pharmacological uncoupler 2,4-dinitrophenol (DNP), which was once prescribed to>100,000 people as a treatment for obesity, stimulates several adaptive cellular stress-response signaling pathways in neurons including those involving the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), the transcription factor cyclic AMP response element-binding protein (CREB), and autophagy. Preclinical data show that low doses of DNP can protect neurons and improve functional outcome in animal models of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, epilepsy, and cerebral ischemic stroke. Repurposing of DNP and the development of novel uncoupling agents with hormetic mechanisms of action provide opportunities for new breakthrough therapeutic interventions in a range of acute and chronic insidious neurodegenerative/neuromuscular conditions, all paradoxically at body weight-preserving doses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAlzheimer's and Dementia
StateAccepted/In press - 2016


  • BDNF
  • CREB
  • DNP
  • Hormesis
  • Mitochondrial uncoupling
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Synaptic plasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Health Policy
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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