Iron, brain ageing and neurodegenerative disorders

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2004 Nov;5(11):863-73. doi: 10.1038/nrn1537.


There is increasing evidence that iron is involved in the mechanisms that underlie many neurodegenerative diseases. Conditions such as neuroferritinopathy and Friedreich ataxia are associated with mutations in genes that encode proteins that are involved in iron metabolism, and as the brain ages, iron accumulates in regions that are affected by Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. High concentrations of reactive iron can increase oxidative-stress induced neuronal vulnerability, and iron accumulation might increase the toxicity of environmental or endogenous toxins. By studying the accumulation and cellular distribution of iron during ageing, we should be able to increase our understanding of these neurodegenerative disorders and develop new therapeutic strategies.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Brain / growth & development*
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Iron / metabolism*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / etiology*


  • Iron