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

Pulmonary toxicity of deferoxamine in iron-poisoned mice.

Previously we have shown that a group of patients treated for iron overdose with prolonged deferoxamine (DFO) infusion died of adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). We now describe a model to investigate the mechanism of this pulmonary toxicity. Mice treated with 1 oral dose of iron (Fe) and then multiple injections of DFO, or with the chelated product ferrioxamine alone, did not develop lung lesions, even at doses which induced mortality. To potentiate any possible free radical reaction, other groups of mice were treated similarly while exposed to 75-80% O2 over a 4-day period. Ten of 12 mice receiving 0.75 mg Fe and then DFO (10 mg, 4 times/day for 4 days) with hyperoxia died suddenly. At autopsy the lungs were dark red and solid; sections showed hyaline membranes and alveolar exudates of edema, fibrin, and PMN. Electron microscopy showed massive destruction of the alveolar epithelium; using cerium chloride, a free radical reaction product was demonstrated at the alveolar surface. Lung lavage fluid contained 10-12 x normal levels of protein when the Fe-DFO-O2 group was compared to air or O2 controls. Mice receiving DFO or Fe, plus O2, showed only slight injury and a small increase in alveolar protein. The results indicate that Fe plus DFO generates free radicals in the lung, a reaction potentiated by hyperoxia to produce an ARDS-like picture. This suggests that the pulmonary toxicity of DFO in iron-poisoned patients is due to its prooxidant activity resulting in free radical destruction of the airblood barrier.[1]


  1. Pulmonary toxicity of deferoxamine in iron-poisoned mice. Adamson, I.Y., Sienko, A., Tenenbein, M. Toxicol. Appl. Pharmacol. (1993) [Pubmed]
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