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

The role of the transferrin receptor for the activation of human lymphocytes.

The proliferative response of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) in synthetic serum-free media depends on the presence of sufficient amounts of transferrin (Tf). In the present communication we show that the reduction of Tf concentration in culture media results in a decreased proliferation, whereas lymphokine production and the expression of activation markers ( IL-2 receptor; transferrin receptor, (TfR); HLA class II) remain unchanged. To examine whether this effect is due to iron depletion we added iron chelates (ferric citrate, FeCi; ferric nitrilotriacetic acid, FeNTA) which can be internalized by cells without the requirement for Tf. The iron chelates could fully restore the proliferative response even in complete absence of Tf, suggesting that the observed inhibitory effect was indeed caused by iron depletion. Addition of a monoclonal TfR antibody, J 64, also caused a marked inhibition of proliferation of PBMC in regular serum-containing medium as well as in Tf-free synthetic medium; this effect could not be overcome by any of the tested iron chelates. Therefore, growth inhibition caused by J 64 cannot simply be attributed to iron starvation. These data suggest that J 64 may interfere with processes others than iron uptake and that the TfR might confer a necessary promoting signal for lymphocyte proliferation.[1]


  1. The role of the transferrin receptor for the activation of human lymphocytes. Keyna, U., Nüsslein, I., Rohwer, P., Kalden, J.R., Manger, B. Cell. Immunol. (1991) [Pubmed]
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