Transferrin and H-ferritin involvement in brain iron acquisition during postnatal development: impact of sex and genotype

Brian Chiou, Elizabeth B. Neely, Dillon S. Mcdevitt, Ian A. Simpson, James R. Connor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Iron delivery to the developing brain is essential for energy and metabolic support needed for processes such as myelination and neuronal development. Iron deficiency, especially in the developing brain, can result in a number of long-term neurological deficits that persist into adulthood. There is considerable debate that excess access to iron during development may result in iron overload in the brain and subsequently predispose individuals to age-related neurodegenerative diseases. There is a significant gap in knowledge regarding how the brain acquires iron during development and how biological variables such as development, genetics, and sex impact brain iron status. In this study, we used a mouse model expressing a mutant form of the iron homeostatic regulator protein HFE, (Hfe H63D), the most common gene variant in Caucasians, to determine impact of the mutation on brain iron uptake. Iron uptake was assessed using 59Fe bound to either transferrin or H-ferritin as the iron carrier proteins. We demonstrate that at postnatal day 22, mutant mice brains take up greater amounts of iron compared with wildtype. Moreover, we introduce H-ferritin as a key protein in brain iron transport during development and identify a sex and genotype effect demonstrating female mutant mice take up more iron by transferrin, whereas male mutant mice take up more iron from H-ferritin at PND22. Furthermore, we begin to elucidate the mechanism for uptake using immunohistochemistry to profile the regional distribution and temporal expression of transferrin receptor and T-cell immunoglobulin and mucin domain 2, the latter is the receptor for H-ferritin. These data demonstrate that sex and genotype have significant effects on iron uptake and that regional receptor expression may play a large role in the uptake patterns during development. (Figure presented.). Open Science: This manuscript was awarded with the Open Materials Badge. For more information see: Cover Image for this issue: doi: 10.1111/jnc.14731.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)381-396
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of neurochemistry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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