Hemoglobin as a source of iron overload in multiple sclerosis: does multiple sclerosis share risk factors with vascular disorders?

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2014 May;71(10):1789-98. doi: 10.1007/s00018-014-1570-y. Epub 2014 Feb 7.


Although iron is known to be essential for the normal development and health of the central nervous system, abnormal iron deposits are found in and around multiple sclerosis (MS) lesions that themselves are closely associated with the cerebral vasculature. However, the origin of this excess iron is unknown, and it is not clear whether this is one of the primary causative events in the pathogenesis of MS, or simply another consequence of the long-lasting inflammatory conditions. Here, applying a systems biology approach, we propose an additional way for understanding the neurodegenerative component of the disease caused by chronic subclinical extravasation of hemoglobin, in combination with multiple other factors including, but not limited to, dysfunction of different cellular protective mechanisms against extracellular hemoglobin reactivity and oxidative stress. Moreover, such considerations could also shed light on and explain the higher susceptibility of MS patients to a wide range of cardiovascular disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Blood-Brain Barrier / metabolism
  • Hemoglobins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Iron Overload / etiology*
  • Iron Overload / metabolism*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / complications*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / metabolism*
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Risk Factors
  • Vascular Diseases / metabolism*
  • Vascular Diseases / pathology


  • Hemoglobins