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Neurotoxicology. 2011 Jan;32(1):75-82. doi: 10.1016/j.neuro.2010.11.006. Epub 2010 Dec 3.

Iron overload triggers redox-sensitive signals in human IMR-32 neuroblastoma cells.

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Instituto de Investigaciones Bioquímicas de Bahía Blanca (INIBIBB), Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Universidad Nacional del Sur, CC857, Camino La Carrindanga Km 7, B8000FWB Bahía Blanca, Buenos Aires, Argentina.


Excessive neuronal iron has been proposed to contribute to the pathology of several neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. This work characterized human neuroblastoma IMR-32 cells exposure to ferric ammonium citrate (FAC) as a model of neuronal iron overload and neurodegeneration. The consequences of FAC treatment on neuronal oxidative stress and on the modulation of the oxidant-sensitive transcription factors AP-1 and NF-κB were investigated. Incubation with FAC (150μM) resulted in a time (3-72h)-dependent increase in cellular iron content, and was associated with cell oxidant increase. FAC caused a time-dependent (3-48h) increase in nuclear AP-1- and NF-κB-DNA binding. This was associated with the upstream activation of the mitogen activated kinases ERK1/2, p38 and JNK and of IκBα phosphorylation and degradation. After 72h incubation with FAC, cell viability was 40% lower than in controls. Iron overload caused apoptotic cell death. After 48-72h of incubation with FAC, caspase 3 activity was increased, and chromatin condensation and nuclear fragmentation were observed. In summary, the exposure of IMR-32 cells to FAC is associated with increased oxidant cell levels, activation of redox-sensitive signals, and apoptosis.

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