Quantitative genetic analysis of ventral midbrain and liver iron in BXD recombinant inbred mice

Nutr Neurosci. 2003 Dec;6(6):369-77. doi: 10.1080/10284150310001624192.


Male and female mice from 15 of the BXD/Ty recombinant inbred strain panel were examined for regional brain and liver iron content. Brain regions included medial prefrontal cortex, nucleus accumbens, caudate-putamen and ventral midbrain. Our focal tissue was the ventral midbrain, containing the ventral tegmentum and substantia nigra. This area contains the perikarya of the dopamine neurons that project to nucleus accumbens and caudate-putamen. Genetic correlations between ventral midbrain and liver iron content were not statistically significant, suggesting that peripheral and central iron regulatory systems are largely independent. Correlations between ventral midbrain iron and iron in the caudate-putamen and nucleus accumbens, but not the prefrontal cortex were moderately high and significant. Ventral midbrain and liver iron contents were subjected to quantitative trait loci analysis to identify associated chromosomal locations. This analysis revealed several suggestive loci for iron content in ventral midbrain but fewer loci for liver. Genetic correlations between ventral midbrain iron and published dopamine functional indices were significant, suggesting a link between ventral midbrain iron status and central dopamine neurobiology. This work shows the value of quantitative genetic analysis in the neurobiology of iron and in showing the close association between ventral midbrain iron and nigrostriatal/mesolimbic dopamine function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Chemistry*
  • DNA, Recombinant
  • Female
  • Heredity
  • Iron / analysis*
  • Liver / chemistry*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Inbred DBA
  • Phenotype
  • Quantitative Trait Loci*
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / genetics


  • DNA, Recombinant
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2
  • Iron