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Elife. 2019 Dec 3;8. pii: e51031. doi: 10.7554/eLife.51031.

Impaired lysosomal acidification triggers iron deficiency and inflammation in vivo.

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Institute of Cellular Biochemistry, University Medical Center Goettingen, Goettingen, Germany.
European Neuroscience Institute, a Joint Initiative of the Max-Planck Institute and of the University Medical Center Goettingen, Goettingen, Germany.
Biomedizinische NMR, Max-Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Goettingen, Germany.
Department of Microbial Pathogenesis and Immunology, Texas A&M University Health Science Center, Austin, United States.
Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Engineering, Technion Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel.


Lysosomal acidification is a key feature of healthy cells. Inability to maintain lysosomal acidic pH is associated with aging and neurodegenerative diseases. However, the mechanisms elicited by impaired lysosomal acidification remain poorly understood. We show here that inhibition of lysosomal acidification triggers cellular iron deficiency, which results in impaired mitochondrial function and non-apoptotic cell death. These effects are recovered by supplying iron via a lysosome-independent pathway. Notably, iron deficiency is sufficient to trigger inflammatory signaling in cultured primary neurons. Using a mouse model of impaired lysosomal acidification, we observed a robust iron deficiency response in the brain, verified by in vivo magnetic resonance imaging. Furthermore, the brains of these mice present a pervasive inflammatory signature associated with instability of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), both corrected by supplementation of the mice diet with iron. Our results highlight a novel mechanism linking impaired lysosomal acidification, mitochondrial malfunction and inflammation in vivo.


acidification; brain; cell biology; human; human biology; inflammation; iron; lysosome; medicine; mitochondria; mouse

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