Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Normal prion protein regulates iron metabolism

Date:
March 13, 2013
Source:
Case Western Reserve University
Summary:
An iron imbalance caused by prion proteins collecting in the brain is a likely cause of cell death in Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, researchers have found. The breakthrough follows discoveries that certain proteins found in the brains of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's patients also regulate iron.

An iron imbalance caused by prion proteins collecting in the brain is a likely cause of cell death in Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), researchers at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have found.

The breakthrough follows discoveries that certain proteins found in the brains of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's patients also regulate iron. The results suggest that neurotoxicity by the form of iron, called redox-active iron, may be a trait of neurodegenerative conditions in all three diseases, the researchers say.

Further, the role of the normal prion protein known as PrPc in iron metabolism may provide a target for strategies to maintain iron balance and reduce iron-induced neurotoxicity in patients suffering from CJD, a rare degenerative disease for which no cure yet exists.

The researchers report that lack of PrPC hampers iron uptake and storage and more findings are now in the online edition of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

"There are many skeptics who think iron is a bystander or end-product of neuronal death and has no role to play in neurodegenerative conditions," said Neena Singh, a professor of pathology and neurology at Case Western Reserve and the paper's senior author. "We're not saying that iron imbalance is the only cause, but failure to maintain stable levels of iron in the brain appears to contribute significantly to neuronal death."

Prions are misfolded forms of PrPC that are infectious and disease-causing agents of CJD. PrPc is the normal form present in all tissues including the brain. PrPc acts as a ferrireductase, that is, it helps to convert oxidized iron to a form that can be taken up and utilized by the cells, the scientists show.

In their investigation, mouse models that lacked PrPC were iron-deficient. By supplementing their diets with excess inorganic iron, normal levels of iron in the body were restored. When the supplements stopped, the mice returned to being iron-deficient.

Examination of iron metabolism pathways showed that the lack of PrPC impaired iron uptake and storage, and alternate mechanisms of iron uptake failed to compensate for the deficiency.

Cells have a tight regulatory system for iron uptake, storage and release. PrPC is an essential element in this process, and its aggregation in CJD possibly results in an environment of iron imbalance that is damaging to neuronal cells, Singh explained

It is likely that as CJD progresses and PrPC forms insoluble aggregates, loss of ferrireductase function combined with sequestration of iron in prion aggregates leads to insufficiency of iron in diseased brains, creating a potentially toxic environment, as reported earlier by this group and featured in Nature Journal club.

Recently, members of the Singh research team also helped to identify a highly accurate test to confirm the presence of CJD in living sufferers. They found that iron imbalance in the brain is reflected as a specific change in the levels of iron-management proteins other than PrPc in the cerebrospinal fluid. The fluid can be tapped to diagnose the disease with 88.9 percent accuracy, the researchers reported in the journal Antioxidants & Redox Signaling online last month.

Singh' s team is now investigating how prion protein functions to convert oxidized iron to a usable form. They are also evaluating the role of prion protein in brain iron metabolism, and whether the iron imbalance observed in cases of CJD, Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease is reflected in the cerebrospinal fluid. A specific change in the fluid could provide a disease-specific diagnostic test for these disorders.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Case Western Reserve University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Case Western Reserve University. "Normal prion protein regulates iron metabolism." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 March 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130313131902.htm>.
Case Western Reserve University. (2013, March 13). Normal prion protein regulates iron metabolism. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130313131902.htm
Case Western Reserve University. "Normal prion protein regulates iron metabolism." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130313131902.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

AP (July 28, 2014) A bipartisan deal to improve veterans health care would authorize at least $15 billion in emergency spending to fix a veterans program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Reuters - US Online Video (July 28, 2014) Two American aid workers in Liberia test positive for Ebola while working to combat the deadliest outbreak of the virus ever. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins