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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2004 Mar;1012:179-82.

Oxidative stress and redox-active iron in Alzheimer's disease.

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Institute of Pathology, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio 44106, USA.


Many lines of evidence indicate that oxidative stress is one of the earliest events in the genesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Iron is a transition metal capable of generating hydroxyl radicals, the most potent reactive oxygen species. Consequently, a disruption in the metabolism of iron has been postulated to have a role in the pathogenesis of AD. Indeed, both senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, the major pathological landmarks of AD, as well as neurons in the earliest stages of the disease, show elevated iron deposition. However, it is clear that the iron bound to lesion-associated proteins such as amyloid-beta and tau plays only a minor, late role in the disease, with the RNA-associated iron found in the neuronal cytoplasm occurring early and being of paramount importance. In this regard, it is probably not surprising that there is significant oxidation of cytoplasmic RNA among the populations of neurons vulnerable to AD. In this review, we consider the role of iron-induced oxidative stress as a key event in AD pathophysiology.

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