Immunohistochemical analysis of transferrin receptor: Regional and cellular distribution in the hypotransferrinemic (hpx) mouse brain

Thomas K. Dickinson, James R. Connor

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44 Scopus citations


The hypotransferrinemic (hpx) mouse mutant produces < 1% of the normal circulating level of transferrin (Tf). Heterozygote animals of this strain (hpx/+) have approximately 50% of normal plasma Tf levels. In this study we examine the cellular and regional distribution of Tf receptor (Tf-R) in the brain of wild type, hpx/+ and mutant (hpx/hpx) mice. Also, using slot-blot (immunoblot) analysis, we describe the relative amount of Tf-R in brain microvessels of hpx/+ animals compared with wild type. Tf-R was seen primarily in neurons throughout the brains of wild type, hpx/+ and hpx/hpx animals. Gray matter areas immunoreacted more robustly than white matter areas. Oligodendrocytes and third ventricle tanycytes, both of which we have previously described as iron-positive, did not immunoreact for Tf-R. Tf-R immunohistochemical reaction in wild type, hpx/+ and hpx/hpx brains appeared similar. Immunoblot analysis of isolated cortical microvessels from wild type and hpx/+ animals revealed no upregulation of Tf-R expression in hpx/+ (relative to normal) despite a 50% decrease in circulating Tf levels. These results indicate that Tf-R is primarily expressed by neurons and that half normal levels of Tf (hpx/+) or transferrin supplementation (hpx/hpx) are apparently sufficient for normal expression and distribution of Tf-R. Because of the lack of circulating Tf, but unaltered Tf-R expression, hpx mice could serve as a model for delivery of therapeutic agents via the Tf/Tf-R system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)171-181
Number of pages11
JournalBrain research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Aug 10 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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