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Biochim Biophys Acta. 1988 Jan 18;968(1):51-8.

Iron mobilization from cultured rat bone marrow macrophages.

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International Institute of Cellular and Molecular Pathology, Brussels, Belgium.


The reticuloendothelial system is responsible for removing old and damaged erythrocytes from the circulation, allowing iron to return to bone marrow for hemoglobin synthesis. Cultured bone marrow macrophages were loaded with 59Fe-labelled erythroblasts and iron mobilization was studied. After erythroblast digestion, iron taken up by macrophages was found in ferritin as well as in a low-molecular-weight fraction. The analysis of iron mobilization from macrophages shows: (1) the iron was mobilized as ferritin. (2) A higher mobilization was observed when apotransferrin was present in the culture medium. (3) In the presence of apotransferrin in the culture medium, part of the iron was found as transferrin iron. (4) Iron transfer from ferritin to apotransferrin was observed in a cell-free culture medium and this process was temperature independent. The results indicate that after phagocytosis of 59Fe-labelled erythroblasts by macrophages, iron is mobilized as ferritin. In the plasma, this iron can be transferred to apotransferrin.

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