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Neuropathol Appl Neurobiol. 2006 Apr;32(2):170-6.

Iron overload and antioxidative role of perivascular astrocytes in aceruloplasminemia.

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1
Department of Laboratory Medicine, Musashi Hospital, National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry, Kodaira, Tokyo, Japan. oide@ncnp.go.jp

Abstract

Aceruloplasminemia (ACP) is an inherited disorder of iron metabolism caused by the lack of ceruloplasmin activity; the neuropathological hallmarks are excessive iron deposition, neuronal loss, bizarrely deformed astrocytes, and numerous 'grumose or foamy spheroid bodies (GFSBs)'. We histopathologically examined two autopsied ACP brains, and observed for the first time that GFSBs form in clusters at the ends of perivascular astrocytic foot processes. Both the deformed astrocytes and the GFSBs contained ferric iron and were intensely immunolabelled with antibodies against the antioxidant proteins ferritin and manganese superoxide dismutase (Mn SOD). Ceruloplasmin is largely produced by perivascular astrocytes in the central nervous system and exhibits a ferroxidase activity that inhibits iron-associated lipid peroxidation and hydroxyl radical formation; therefore, the lack of ceruloplasmin causes direct oxidative stress on astrocytes. The intense immunolabelling of ferritin and Mn SOD most likely reflects a defensive response to iron-mediated oxidative stress. This study suggests that astrocytes play key roles in iron trafficking and the detoxification of iron-mediated free radicals at the blood-brain barrier and in the parenchyma in ACP brain. The antioxidative ability of astrocytes is one of their essential neuroprotective effects, and the decompensation of this ability may lead to secondary neuronal cell death in ACP.

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