Physiological functions of non-apoptotic caspase activity in the nervous system

Emilie Hollville, Mohanish Deshmukh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Caspases are cysteine proteases that play important and well-defined roles in apoptosis and inflammation. Increasing evidence point to alternative functions of caspases where restricted and localized caspase activation within neurons allows for a variety of non-apoptotic and non-inflammatory processes required for brain development and function. In this review, we highlight sublethal caspase functions in axon and dendrite pruning, neurite outgrowth and dendrite branches formation, as well as in long-term depression and synaptic plasticity. Importantly, as non-apoptotic activity of caspases is often confined in space and time in neurons, we also discuss the mechanisms that restrict caspase activity in order to maintain the neuronal networks in a healthy and functional state.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-136
Number of pages10
JournalSeminars in Cell and Developmental Biology
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Due to space limitations, we apologize for not including all the papers relevant to this literature. This work was supported by a grant from National Institutes of Health ( GM118331 ) to MD.


  • Caspase
  • Neurite branching
  • Neuron
  • Pruning
  • Synaptic plasticity
  • XIAP


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