Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a neurological disorder that is thought to involve decreased iron availability in the brain. Iron is required for oxidative metabolism and plays a critical role in redox reactions in mitochondria. The recent discovery of mitochondrial ferritin (FtMt) provided the opportunity to identify a potential correlation between iron and mitochondrial function in RLS. Human substantia nigra (SN) and putamen autopsy samples from 8 RLS cases and 8 controls were analyzed. Mitochondrial ferritin levels in RLS SN tissue homogenate samples assessed by immunoblots had more FtMt than control samples (p < 0.01), whereas there were no significant differences in FtMt in the putamen samples. By immunohistochemistry, neuromelanin-containing neurons in the SN were the predominant cell type expressing FtMt. Staining in neurons in RLS samples was consistently greater than that in controls. Cytochrome c oxidase staining, which reflects numbers of mitochondria, showed a similar staining pattern to that of FtMt, whereas there was less immunostaining in the RLS cases for cytosolic H-ferritin. These results suggest that increased numbers of mitochondria in neurons in RLS and increased FtMt might contribute to insufficient cytosolic iron levels in RLS SN neurons; they are consistent with the hypothesis that energy insufficiency in these neurons may be involved in the pathogenesis of RLS.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||7|
|Journal||Journal of neuropathology and experimental neurology|
|State||Published - Nov 2009|
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