Role of iron in neurodegenerative disorders

Top Magn Reson Imaging. 2006 Feb;17(1):5-17. doi: 10.1097/


Although the pathophysiology underlying a number of neurodegenerative diseases is complex and, in many aspects, only partly understood, increased iron levels in pathologically relevant brain areas and iron-mediated oxidative stress seem to play a central role in many of them. Much has been learned from monogenetically caused disturbances of brain iron metabolism including pantothenate kinase-associated neurodegeneration type 2, hereditary ferritinopathies affecting the basal ganglia, and aceruloplasminemia that may well be applied to the most common neurodegenerative disorders associated with brain iron accumulation including Parkinson disease and Alzheimer disease. Iron-mediated oxidative stress in neurodegenerative diseases caused by other genetic pathways like Huntington disease and Friedreich ataxia underscore the complex interaction of this trace metal and genetic variations. Therapeutical strategies derived from application of iron chelators in monogenetically caused disturbances of brain iron metabolism and new iron and oxidative stress diminishing substances in animal models of Parkinson disease are promising and warrant further investigational effort.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Humans
  • Iron / metabolism*
  • Iron Metabolism Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Iron Metabolism Disorders / metabolism*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / metabolism*


  • Biomarkers
  • Iron