Ferrous-citrate complex and nigral degeneration: evidence for free-radical formation and lipid peroxidation

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1994 Nov 17;738:392-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.1994.tb21828.x.


Increased nigral iron content in the parkinsonian brain is now well documented and is implicated in the pathogenesis of this movement disorder. Free iron in the pigmented DA-containing neurons catalyze DA autoxidation and Fenton reaction to produce cytotoxic .OH, initiating lipid peroxidation and consequent cell damage. The present results clearly demonstrate that a regional increase in the levels of the "labile iron pool" can result in the degeneration of dopaminergic nigral neurons as reflected by a significant inhibition in the expression of tyrosine hydroxylase mRNA and DA depletion. Iron-complex-induced damage of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra, might have resulted from a sequence of cytotoxic events including the .OH generation and lipid peroxidation as demonstrated in this study. This free-radical-induced oxidative nigral injury may be a reliable free-radical model for studying parkinsonism and may be relevant to idiopathic Parkinson's disease. This apparent nigral injury stimulated by Fe(2+)-citrate is more severe than that produced by ferric iron and its citrate complex. Moreover, these data indicate that Fe(2+)-citrate is as potent as MPP+ in causing oxidative injury to the substantia nigral neurons. However, the nigral toxicity of MPTP and its congeners are not progressive, while Fe(2+)-citrate complex may produce a progressive degeneration of the nigrostriatal neurons which is similar to the progression of ideopathic Parkinson's disease. Thus, this unique Fe(2+)-citrate complex animal model could be used for studying neuroprotective treatments for retarding or halting the progressive nigrostriatal degeneration caused by free radicals in the iron-rich basal ganglia.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • 3,4-Dihydroxyphenylacetic Acid / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Corpus Striatum / drug effects*
  • Corpus Striatum / metabolism
  • Corpus Striatum / pathology
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • Ferrous Compounds / pharmacology*
  • Free Radicals / metabolism
  • Hydroxyl Radical / metabolism*
  • Kinetics
  • Lipid Peroxidation / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Neurons / drug effects*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurons / pathology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Substantia Nigra / drug effects*
  • Substantia Nigra / metabolism
  • Substantia Nigra / pathology


  • Ferrous Compounds
  • Free Radicals
  • 3,4-Dihydroxyphenylacetic Acid
  • Hydroxyl Radical
  • monoferrous acid citrate
  • Dopamine