Iron uptake by mammalian cortical neurons

Kenneth F Swaiman, Valynda L. Machen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Although iron accumulates in the brain in a number of pathological conditions, including Hallervorden‐Spatz syndrome, Parkinson's disease, and neurosyphilis, studies of brain iron metabolism have been performed only rarely. Neuronal‐enriched cultures were prepared from fetal mouse brain. After 18 days the cells were exposed to radiolabeled iron. Total iron uptake and incorporation into ferritin were rapid and linear over four hours. The addition of either methylamine or ammonium chloride, both known blockers of transferrin‐iron release through their lysosomotropic properties, inhibited total iron uptake. Methylamine also inhibited the rate of ferritin‐iron incorporation, most likely by interfering with transferrin‐iron release. The data suggest that neuronal iron transport, much like that in other mammalian tissues, is transferrin mediated and that blockers of transferrin‐iron release may be of value in conditions in which there is brain iron overload.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)66-70
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1984


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