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Glia. 2009 Apr 1;57(5):467-78. doi: 10.1002/glia.20784.

Oligodendrocytes and myelination: the role of iron.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, 500 University Drive, Hershey, PA 17033-0850, USA.


Iron is an essential trophic factor that is required for oxygen consumption and ATP production. Thus it plays a key role in vital cell functions. Although the brain has a relatively high rate of oxygen consumption compared to other organs, oligodendrocytes are the principal cells in the CNS that stain for iron under normal conditions. The importance of iron in myelin production has been demonstrated by studies showing that decreased availability of iron in the diet is associated with hypomyelination. The timing of iron delivery to oligodendrocytes during development is also important because hypomyelination and the associated neurological sequelae persist long after the systemic iron deficiency has been corrected. Therefore, identifying the molecular roles of iron in oligodendrocyte development and myelin production, and the mechanisms and timing of iron acquisitions are important prerequisites to developing effective therapies for dysmyelinating disorders. It is the purpose of this review to give a comprehensive overview of the existing literature on role of iron in oligodendrocytes and the mechanisms of iron acquisition and intracellular handling.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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