HFE gene variants are relatively common genetic variants in Caucasians. The H63D HFE genetic variant has been repeatedly associated with a number of neurodegenerative diseases. We developed neuroblastoma cell lines expressing different HFE polymorphisms to explore the mechanisms behind these associations. Here we tested the hypothesis that cells with the H63D variant have a phenotype that promotes glutamate toxicity. In support of this hypothesis, expression of H63D HFE is associated with increased calcium-induced glutamate secretion and decreased cellular glutamate uptake. The polymorphism-associated changes in glutamate secretion were mimicked by altering cellular iron. Additionally, intracellular calcium is altered in a genotype-specific manner which could further impact glutamate secretion. HFE-dependent effects on glutamate uptake were confirmed in astrocytoma cell lines with endogenous expression of HFE. The ability of minocycline and the antioxidant Trolox to increase glutamate uptake differed by HFE genotype and implicate oxidative stress in glutamate regulation. This study demonstrates HFE cellular effects that extend beyond iron regulation, and suggests that H63D HFE may promote glutamate toxicity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1114-1123
Number of pages10
JournalNeurobiology of Aging
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Aging
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Developmental Biology


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