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J Neurol Sci. 1989 Dec;94(1-3):295-306.

Comparison of the regional distribution of transferrin receptors and aluminium in the forebrain of chronic renal dialysis patients.

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M.R.C. Neurochemical Pathology Unit, Newcastle General Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne, U.K.


Recent studies have emphasised the potential neurotoxicity of aluminium in dialysis encephalopathy and it has also been suggested that this element may have a role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease. Aluminium is known to be transported by the iron transport protein transferrin. In this study using receptor autoradiography we have demonstrated the presence of transferrin binding sites in the human forebrain and shown a pattern similar to that found in other species. Imaging secondary ion mass spectrometry has demonstrated the distribution of aluminium-containing cell-like profiles in the brains of chronic renal dialysis patients who have raised levels of brain aluminium (greater than 4 micrograms/g dry weight) and even in dialysis patients where the gross level of aluminium was within the normal range. The density of these profiles corresponded to the regions of high transferrin receptor density. In contrast, the distribution of iron in the brain showed an inverse correlation with transferrin receptor density with highest iron levels present in the globus pallidus, an area of low transferrin receptor density. These results suggest that the regional distribution of neuropathological changes seen in dialysis encephalopathy patients and also Alzheimer's disease may reflect the distribution of transferrin receptors. The discrepancy between iron distribution and transferrin receptor distribution suggests that further, as yet uncharacterized mechanisms, govern the distribution of brain iron.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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