Excessive iron accumulation in the brain: a possible potential risk of neurodegeneration in Parkinson's disease

J Neural Transm (Vienna). 1997;104(6-7):649-60. doi: 10.1007/BF01291883.


In this study a chronic cerebral iron-loaded model was established by feeding mice with high iron diet. Data indicated that brain iron concentrations were significantly increased in iron-fed mice compared with those of controls. A significant increase in oxidized glutathione (GSSG), decrease in total glutathione (oxidized and reduced glutathione, GSSG + GSH), and therefore increase in the GSSG/(GSSG + GSH) ratios were observed in iron-loaded mice. Hydroxyl radical (.OH) levels in striatum and brainstem were also significantly increased. Excessive iron alone did not change either dopamine (DA) or lipid peroxidation (LPO) concentrations in striatum. However, a single injection of 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP, 30 mg/kg, i.p.) into the iron-loaded mice caused a great enhancement in all these biochemical abnormalities. These findings suggest that iron does induce oxidative stress, but not severely injury neurons per sc. Excessive iron accumulation in the brain, however, is a potential risk for neuronal damage, which may promote by triggering factor(s). This supports the hypothesis that excessive cerebral iron may contribute to the aetiology of Parkinson's disease (PD).

MeSH terms

  • 1-Methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain Stem / metabolism
  • Corpus Striatum / metabolism
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Glutathione Disulfide / metabolism
  • Hydroxyl Radical
  • Iron / metabolism*
  • Iron, Dietary / adverse effects*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / metabolism*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Parkinson Disease / metabolism*
  • Risk Factors


  • Iron, Dietary
  • Hydroxyl Radical
  • 1-Methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine
  • Iron
  • Glutathione
  • Glutathione Disulfide