Neurodegenerative disease and iron storage in the brain

Curr Opin Neurol. 2004 Aug;17(4):437-42. doi: 10.1097/01.wco.0000137534.61244.d1.


Purpose of review: Iron is very important for normal regulation of various metabolic pathways. Neurons store iron in the form of ferrous ion or neuromelanin. In specific disorders the axonal transport of iron is impaired, leading to iron deposition which in the presence of reactive oxygen species results in neurodegeneration.

Recent findings: Recent developments in genetics, including the finding of mutations in the pantothenate kinase gene and ferritin light chain gene, have demonstrated a direct relationship between the presence of a mutation in the iron-regulatory pathways and iron deposition in the brain resulting in neurodegeneration. These two disorders now add to our understanding of the mechanism of disease due to dysfunction of iron-regulatory pathways. In addition to these disorders there may be several other mutations of iron-regulatory genes or related genes that are yet to be found. The animal models of disease have also added value to this area.

Summary: In this review we provide a summary of recent developments in the field of movement disorders with abnormalities in iron transport, and the current evidence in neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Ferritins / deficiency
  • Ferritins / genetics
  • Humans
  • Iron / metabolism*
  • Iron Metabolism Disorders / genetics
  • Iron Metabolism Disorders / metabolism*
  • Iron Metabolism Disorders / physiopathology
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / genetics
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / metabolism*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / physiopathology
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Neurons / pathology
  • Phosphotransferases (Alcohol Group Acceptor) / deficiency
  • Phosphotransferases (Alcohol Group Acceptor) / genetics


  • Ferritins
  • Iron
  • Phosphotransferases (Alcohol Group Acceptor)
  • pantothenate kinase