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Nat Rev Neurol. 2015 Sep;11(9):536-44. doi: 10.1038/nrneurol.2015.100. Epub 2015 Jun 23.

Is early-life iron exposure critical in neurodegeneration?

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Elemental Bio-imaging Facility, University of Technology Sydney, 15 Broadway, Ultimo, NSW 2007, Australia.
Department of Preventive Medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, One Gustave L. Levy Place, New York, NY 10029-9574, USA.
The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, The University of Melbourne, 30 Royal Parade, Parkville, VIC 3052, Australia.


The effects of iron deficiency are well documented, but relatively little is known about the long-term implications of iron overload during development. High levels of redox-active iron in the brain have been associated with neurodegenerative disorders, most notably Parkinson disease, yet a gradual increase in brain iron seems to be a feature of normal ageing. Increased brain iron levels might result from intake of infant formula that is excessively fortified with iron, thereby altering the trajectory of brain iron uptake and amplifying the risk of iron-associated neurodegeneration in later life. In this Perspectives article, we discuss the potential long-term implications of excessive iron intake in early life, propose the analysis of iron deposits in teeth as a method for retrospective determination of iron exposure during critical developmental windows, and call for evidence-based optimization of the chemical composition of infant dietary supplements.

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