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Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2011 Nov 1;256(3):249-57. doi: 10.1016/j.taap.2011.02.003. Epub 2011 Feb 19.

Regulation of brain copper homeostasis by the brain barrier systems: effects of Fe-overload and Fe-deficiency.

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  • 1School of Health Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, USA.


Maintaining brain Cu homeostasis is vital for normal brain function. The role of systemic Fe deficiency (FeD) or overload (FeO) due to metabolic diseases or environmental insults in Cu homeostasis in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and brain tissues remains unknown. This study was designed to investigate how blood-brain barrier (BBB) and blood-SCF barrier (BCB) regulated Cu transport and how FeO or FeD altered brain Cu homeostasis. Rats received an Fe-enriched or Fe-depleted diet for 4 weeks. FeD and FeO treatment resulted in a significant increase (+55%) and decrease (-56%) in CSF Cu levels (p<0.05), respectively; however, neither treatment had any effect on CSF Fe levels. The FeD, but not FeO, led to significant increases in Cu levels in brain parenchyma and the choroid plexus. In situ brain perfusion studies demonstrated that the rate of Cu transport into the brain parenchyma was significantly faster in FeD rats (+92%) and significantly slower (-53%) in FeO rats than in controls. In vitro two chamber Transwell transepithelial transport studies using primary choroidal epithelial cells revealed a predominant efflux of Cu from the CSF to blood compartment by the BCB. Further ventriculo-cisternal perfusion studies showed that Cu clearance by the choroid plexus in FeD animals was significantly greater than control (p<0.05). Taken together, our results demonstrate that both the BBB and BCB contribute to maintain a stable Cu homeostasis in the brain and CSF. Cu appears to enter the brain primarily via the BBB and is subsequently removed from the CSF by the BCB. FeD has a more profound effect on brain Cu levels than FeO. FeD increases Cu transport at the brain barriers and prompts Cu overload in the CNS. The BCB plays a key role in removing the excess Cu from the CSF.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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