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Keywords:

  • Ferrotransferrin;
  • Iron uptake;
  • Parkinson's disease;
  • Autoradiography;
  • Receptor;
  • Substantia nigra.

Abstract: Iron is abnormally accumulated in the substantia nigra pars compacta of patients with Parkinson's disease (PD). Because neuronal and glial iron uptake seems to be mediated by the binding of ferrotransferrin to a specific high-affinity receptor on the cell surface, the number of transferrin receptors could be altered in this disease. The regional distribution of specific binding sites for human 125I-diferric transferrin has been studied in the mesencephalon, on cryostat-cut sections from autopsy brains of control subjects and parkinsonian patients by in vitro autoradiography. Densities of binding sites were highest in the central gray substance (˜10 fmol/mg of tissue equivalent), intermediate in the catecholaminergic cell group A8, superior colliculus, and ventral tegmental area, and almost nonexistent in the substantia nigra. The density of 125I-transferrin binding sites was not significantly different between parkinsonian and control brains in any region analyzed. These results show that in the mesencephalon the regional density of transferrin binding sites is lowest in the dopaminergic cell groups, which are the most vulnerable to PD, and suggest that iron does not accumulate through an increased density of transferrin receptors at the level of the substantia nigra.