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Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Volume 2016, Article ID 2746457, 7 pages
Review Article

NRF2, a Key Regulator of Antioxidants with Two Faces towards Cancer

1Department of Pathology, College of Korean Medicine, Dongguk University, Donggukro 32, Goyang, Gyeonggi-do 10326, Republic of Korea
2College of Pharmacy, Dongguk University, Donggukro 32, Goyang, Gyeonggi-do 10326, Republic of Korea

Received 24 March 2016; Accepted 10 May 2016

Academic Editor: Mikko O. Laukkanen

Copyright © 2016 Jaieun Kim and Young-Sam Keum. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


While reactive oxygen species (ROS) is generally considered harmful, a relevant amount of ROS is necessary for a number of cellular functions, including the intracellular signal transduction. In order to deal with an excessive amount of ROS, organisms are equipped with a sufficient amount of antioxidants together with NF-E2-related factor-2 (NRF2), a transcription factor that plays a key role in the protection of organisms against environmental or intracellular stresses. While the NRF2 activity has been generally viewed as beneficial to preserve the integrity of organisms, recent studies have demonstrated that cancer cells hijack the NRF2 activity to survive under the oxidative stress and, therefore, a close check must be kept on the NRF2 activity in cancer. In the present review, we briefly highlight important progresses in understanding the molecular mechanism, structure, and function of KEAP1 and NRF2 interaction. In addition, we provide general perspectives that justify conflicting views on the NRF2 activity in cancer.