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Nutr Neurosci. 2005 Feb;8(1):31-8.

Iron deficiency: differential effects on monoamine transporters.

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Department of Nutritional Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA.


In this study, we extend previous work on iron deficiency and dopamine (DA) transporters to include an examination of central serotonin (5-HT) and noradrenergic (NE) transporters. Rats were fed either iron deficient (ID) or iron adequate (CN) diets from weaning until adulthood. In males, an additional group of iron deficient animals (IR) were given iron supplementation. DA, 5-HT, and NE transporter binding was done in situ on thin sections. ID males, but not females, decreased DA transporter binding in the nucleus accumbens, caudate putamen and substantia nigra by 20-40%. ID males also had a 20-30% reduction in 5-HT transporter binding in several areas (nucleus accumbens, olfactory tubercle, colliculus) while in ID females there was 15-25% increased serotonin transporter binding in the olfactory tubercle, zona incerta, anteroventral thalamic nucleus and vestibular nucleus. Iron deficiency reduced 3H-nisoxetine binding to the NE transporter in locus ceruleus and anteroventral thalamic nucleus in males but not females. Only some of the changes observed in DA, serotonin and NE transporter binding were reversible by iron supplementation. These findings show that iron deficiency affects monoamine systems related to homeostasis and in most cases males appear to be more vulnerable than females.

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