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Shock. 2013 Jun;39(6):520-6. doi: 10.1097/SHK.0b013e31829266b9.

Ferritin L is the sole serum ferritin constituent and a positive hepatic acute-phase protein.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology and Endocrinology, University Medical Center, Georg-August-University, Göttingen, Germany.


Ferritin L (FTL) and ferritin H (FTH) subunits are responsible for intracellular iron storage. Serum ferritin levels are not only dependant on body iron stores. Aims of the present study are to demonstrate nature, source, and major regulatory mediators of serum ferritin in an animal model of acute-phase (AP) response. Animals (rats, wild-type [WT] mice, and interleukin [IL]-6ko mice) were injected with turpentine oil (TO) intra-muscularity to induce a sterile abscess and sacrificed at different time points afterward. Rat hepatocytes were isolated for cell culture and, after reaching confluence, stimulated with major AP cytokines to induce AP conditions. We found a significantly increased expression of both ferritin subunits in liver at mRNA and protein levels during AP response. In the serum of both control and TO-injected rats, only FTL was detectable by Western blotting, whereas no increase in serum FTL was measured by Western blot or enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. An increase in protein expression of FTL and FTH was observed in lysates of rat hepatocytes after treatment with IL-6, IL-1β, and tumor necrosis factor-α; however, only FTL was increasingly released into supernatant. In both TO-injected rats and WT mice, a dramatic increase in serum IL-6 levels was observed, along with an increased amount of hepatic ferritin subunits. However, an increase of hepatic FTL but not of FTH protein expression was observed in IL-6ko mice after TO injection. Our data demonstrate that FTL is the only rat serum ferritin whose release into circulation from the hepatocytes is increased by the effect of AP cytokines (e.g., IL-6). In contrast, FTH expression is intracellular in both under physiological and AP conditions.

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