Hemoglobin and iron handling in brain after subarachnoid hemorrhage and the effect of deferoxamine on early brain injury

J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2010 Nov;30(11):1793-803. doi: 10.1038/jcbfm.2010.137. Epub 2010 Aug 25.


The purpose of this study was to investigate hemoglobin and iron handling after subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), examine the relationship between iron and neuroglial cell changes, and determine whether deferoxamine (DFX) can reduce SAH-induced injury. The SAH was induced in Sprague-Dawley rats (n=110) using an endovascular perforation technique. Animals were treated with DFX (100 mg/kg) or vehicle 2 and 6 hours after SAH induction followed by every 12 hours for 3 days. Rats were killed at 6 hours, Days 1 and 3 to determine nonheme iron and examine iron-handling proteins using Western blot and immunohistochemistry. 8-Hydroxyl-2'-deoxyguanosine and terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick end-labeling (TUNEL) staining were performed to assess oxidative DNA damage and neuronal cell death. After SAH, marked heme-oxygenase-1 (HO-1) upregulation at Day 3 (P<0.01) was accompanied by elevated nonheme iron (P<0.01), transferrin (Tf) (P<0.01), Tf receptor (P<0.05), and ferritin levels (P<0.01). Deferoxamine treatment reduced SAH-induced mortality (12% versus 29%, P<0.05), brain nonheme iron concentration, iron-handling protein expression, oxidative stress, and neuronal cell death at Day 3 (P<0.01) after SAH. These results suggest that iron overload in the acute phase of SAH causes oxidative injury leading to neuronal cell death. Deferoxamine effectively reduced oxidative stress and neuronal cell death, and may be a potential therapeutic agent for SAH.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Cell Death / drug effects
  • DNA Damage
  • Deferoxamine / therapeutic use*
  • Heme Oxygenase-1 / metabolism
  • Hemoglobins / metabolism*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Nick-End Labeling
  • Iron / metabolism*
  • Iron Chelating Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Oxidative Stress / genetics
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, Transferrin / metabolism
  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage / metabolism*
  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage / mortality
  • Time Factors
  • Transferrin / metabolism


  • Hemoglobins
  • Iron Chelating Agents
  • Receptors, Transferrin
  • Transferrin
  • Iron
  • Heme Oxygenase-1
  • Deferoxamine