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Cancer. 1988 Jun 15;61(12):2497-502.

Neuroblastomas contain iron-rich ferritin.

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Department of Pediatrics, Carmel Hospital and Faculty of Medicine, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa.


The ultrastructure of neuroblastoma was examined using unstained sections so that ferritin particles could be identified by the electron density of their iron cores. Ferritin and hemosiderin were found in ten of 11 neuroblastomas that were examined when the patients first presented. The study was therefore expanded to an additional group of children, including some diagnosed by noninvasive procedures and given chemotherapy before the excision of their tumors. In this second group 12 of 20 specimens contained ferritin and hemosiderin in variable amounts. In both groups there was a tendency for patients with advanced disease to have increased amounts of iron compounds in the tumor tissue (Stage III and particularly Stage IV). Most Stage IV patients also had elevated serum ferritin levels. However, based on the available heterogenous material, no absolute relationship could be established between age, disease stage, tumoral storage iron, and the level of serum ferritin. The presence of ferritin in neuroblastoma may be linked to the elevated serum ferritin levels and may be implicated in tumorigenesis.

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