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Free Radic Biol Med. 1988;4(3):185-98.

Superoxide dependent iron release from ferritin in inflammatory diseases.

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Department of Biochemistry I, Medical Faculty, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


Convincing evidence is presented that oxygen free radicals are involved in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Superoxide is produced by polymorphonuclear leucocytes (PMN) in synovial fluid and by macrophages in the synovial membrane. Tissue damage typical for free radical attack is detected in RA. No absolute deficiency of protective factors is found in RA compared to controls, but the available protection is insufficient to cope with all radicals formed. The toxicity of superoxide is increased by iron. It is doubtful whether a low molecular weight iron pool is present. Superoxide is able to release iron from ferritin, providing a suitable source of iron, for the formation of hydroxyl radicals. This new pathogenetic mechanism stimulates to the application of iron chelators in the treatment of RA. Preliminary results with desferrioxamine were disappointing because of serious side-effects. Hopefully in the future intra-articular injection of iron chelators with better pharmacodynamics will be possible. The interaction of free radicals and ferritin is probably also involved in the pathogenesis of other inflammatory diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus, hepatitis, and haemochromatosus.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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