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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)
 
 
 
 
 Moos,  
 

Brain iron homeostasis.

Iron is essential for virtually all types of cells and organisms. The significance of the iron for brain function is reflected by the presence of receptors for transferrin on brain capillary endothelial cells. The transport of iron into the brain from the circulation is regulated so that the extraction of iron by brain capillary endothelial cells is low in iron-replete conditions and the reverse when the iron need of the brain is high as in conditions with iron deficiency and during development of the brain. Whereas there is good agreement that iron is taken up by means of receptor-mediated uptake of iron-transferrin at the brain barriers, there are contradictory views on how iron is transported further on from the brain barriers and into the brain extracellular space. The prevailing hypothesis for transport of iron across the BBB suggests a mechanism that involves detachment of iron from transferrin within barrier cells followed by recycling of apo-transferrin to blood plasma and release of iron as non-transferrin-bound iron into the brain interstitium from where the iron is taken up by neurons and glial cells. Another hypothesis claims that iron-transferrin is transported into the brain by means of transcytosis through the BBB. This thesis deals with the topic "brain iron homeostasis" defined as the attempts to maintain constant concentrations of iron in the brain internal environment via regulation of iron transport through brain barriers, cellular iron uptake by neurons and glia, and export of iron from brain to blood. The first part deals with transport of iron-transferrin complexes from blood to brain either by transport across the brain barriers or by uptake and retrograde axonal transport in motor neurons projecting beyond the blood-brain barrier. The transport of iron and transport into the brain was examined using radiolabeled iron-transferrin. Intravenous injection of [59Fe-125]transferrin led to an almost two-fold higher accumulation of 59Fe than of [125I]transferrin in the brain. Some of the 59Fe was detected in CSF in a fraction less than 30 kDa (III). It was estimated that the iron-binding capacity of transferrin in CSF was exceeded, suggesting that iron is transported into the brain in a quantity that exceeds that of transferrin. Accordingly, it was concluded that the paramount iron transport across the BBB is the result of receptor-mediated endocytosis of iron-containing transferrin by capillary endothelial cells, followed by recycling of transferrin to the blood and transport of non-transferrin-bound iron into the brain. It was found that retrograde axonal transport in a cranial motor nerve is age-dependent, varying from almost negligible in the neonatal brain to high in the adult brain. The principle sources of extracellular transferrin in the brain are hepatocytes, oligodendrocytes, and the choroid plexus. As the passage of liver-derived transferrin into the brain is restricted due to the BBB, other candidates for binding iron in the interstitium should be considered. In vitro studies have revealed secretion of transferrin from the choroid plexus and oligodendrocytes. The second part of the thesis encompasses the circulation of iron in the extracellular fluids of the brain, i.e. the brain interstitial fluid and the CSF. As the latter receives drainage from the interstitial fluid, the CSF of the ventricles can be considered a mixture of these fluids, which may allow for analysis of CSF in matters that relate to the brain interstitial fluid. As the choroid plexus is known to synthesize transferrin, a key question is whether transferrin of the CSF might play a role for iron homeostasis by diffusing from the ventricles and subarachnoid space to the brain interstitium. Intracerebroventricular injection of [59Fe125I]transferrin led to a higher accumulation of 59Fe than of [125I]transferrin in the brain. Except for uptake and axonal transport by certain neurons with access to the ventricular CSF, both iron and transferrin were, however, restricted to areas situated in close proximity to the ventricular and pial surfaces. In particular, transferrin injected into the ventricles was never observed in regions distant from the CSF. It was concluded that choroid plexus-derived transferrin is not likely to play a significant role for binding and transporting iron in the brain interstitium. Transferrin secretion from oligodendrocytes probably plays the key role in this process. In the third part of the thesis, the uptake of iron by neurons devoid of projections beyond the blood-brain barrier and glia is addressed. Given the fact that the demonstration of plasma proteins in brain sections can be hampered by several methodological factors, a mapping of the cellular distribution of transferrin in the brain was performed employing extensive use of tissue-processing and staining protocols. In order to aid in the understanding of cellular iron uptake in the intact brain, attempts were made to identify iron, transferrin, and transferrin receptors at the light microscopic level. Consistent with the widespread distribution of transferrin receptors in neurons, the ligand transferrin was also found in neurons throughout the CNS. When examined at high resolution, transferrin was found to be distributed to the cytoplasm of neurons, exhibiting a dotted appearance, which is probably consistent with a distribution in the endosomallysosomal system. In contrast to the consistent presence of transferrin receptors on neurons, it was not possible to detect transferrin receptors on glial cells. Related to these observations, the presence of non-transferrin-bound iron in the brain suggests that glial cells may take it up by a mechanism that does not involve the transferrin receptor. The widespread distribution of ferritin in glial cells clearly indicates that the glial cells acquire iron. Dietary iron-overload did not change the distribution of transferrin receptors or ferritin in the brain. By contrast, iron deficiency altered the cellular content of these proteins so that transferrin receptors were higher and ferritin lower. The transport of iron from brain to blood was addressed in the last part of the thesis. It was found that in the case of iron and transferrin, there is no evidence showing other significant routes of transport from the brain extracellular fluid into the blood than drainage to the ventricular system followed by export to the blood via the arachnoid villi. The turnover of transferrin in the CSF was found to be very high. For reasons mentioned above, transferrin of the CSF is of little significance for transport and cellular delivery of iron to transferrin receptor-expressing neurons. Instead, transferrin of the CSF probably plays a significant role for neutralization and export to the blood of metals, including iron. Once appearing in blood, transferrin of the CSF was degraded at the same rate as intravenously injected transferrin, which indicates that the transferrin of CSF is not altered to an extent that changes its catabolism during the passage from CSF to blood plasma. The metabolism of iron in the developing brain was found to differ markedly when compared to that of the adult brain. A developing regulated transfer of iron to the brain was reflected morphologically by a higher content of transferrin receptors and non-heme iron in endothelial cells of the developing rat brain than in the adult. Neurons had a very low level of transferrin receptors. After about 20 days of age, iron transport into the brain decreased rapidly, and transferrin receptors appeared on neurons. Iron and transferrin injected into the ventricular system of the developing brain were much more widely distributed in the brain parenchyma than in the adult brain. This high accumulation of substances injected into the ventricles in young animals is probably due to the lower rate of production and turnover of CSF, which will increase the time available for diffusion of proteins into the brain parenchyma, thus giving neurons of the developing brain the opportunity to take up transferrin originating from the CSF.[1]

References

  1. Brain iron homeostasis. Moos, T. Danish medical bulletin. (2002) [Pubmed]
 
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