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J Neurochem. 2002 Sep;82(5):1137-47.

Iron (III) induces aggregation of hyperphosphorylated tau and its reduction to iron (II) reverses the aggregation: implications in the formation of neurofibrillary tangles of Alzheimer's disease.

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Department of Neurological Science, Tohoku University School of Medicine, Sendai, Japan.

Erratum in

  • J Neurochem. 2003 Sep;86(6):1568.


Iron as well as aluminum is reported to accumulate in neurons with neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) of Alzheimer's disease (AD) brain. Previously we demonstrated that aluminum (III) shows phosphate-dependent binding with hyperphosphorylated tau (PHFtau), the major constituent of NFTs, thereby inducing aggregation of PHFtau. Herein we report that iron (III) can also induce aggregation of soluble PHFtau. Importantly, for the aggregation of PHFtau to occur, iron in the oxidized state (III) is essential since iron in the reduced state (II) lacks such ability. Furthermore, iron (III)-induced aggregation is reversed by reducing iron (III) to iron (II). Thus the iron-participating aggregation is mediated not only by tau phosphorylation but also by the transition of iron between reduced (II) and oxidized (III) states. Further incubation of insoluble PHFtau aggregates isolated from AD brain with reducing agents produced liberation of solubilized PHFtau and iron (II), indicating that PHFtau in association with iron (III) constitutes the insoluble pool of PHFtau. These results indicate that iron might play a role in the aggregation of PHFtau leading to the formation of NFTs in AD brain.

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