Iron and transferrin uptake by brain and cerebrospinal fluid in the rat

A. Crowe, Evan Morgan

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Iron and transferrin uptake into the brain, CSF and choroid plexus, and albumin uptake into the CSF and choroid plexus, were determined after the intravenous injection of [Fe-59-I-125]transferrin and [I-131]albumin into control rats aged 15, 21 and 63 days and 21-day iron-deficient rats. Iron uptake by the brain was unidirectional, greatly exceeded that of transferrin and was equivalent to 39 and 36% of the plasma iron pool per day in the 15-day control and 21-day iron-deficient rats. The rate of transferrin catabolism in the rats was only about 20% of the plasma pool per day. Iron and transferrin uptake into the brain and CSF decreased with increasing age and was greater in the iron-deficient than in the control 21-day rats. The quantity of I-125-transferrin recovered in the CSF could account for only a small proportion of the iron taken up by the brain. Albumin transfer to the CSF also decreased with age but was lower than that of transferrin and was not affected by iron deficiency. Similarly, the plasma: CSF concentration ratios of transferrin and albumin, as determined immunologically, decreased with age and were greater for transferrin than albumin. It is concluded that iron uptake by the brain is dependent on iron release from transferrin at the cerebral capillary endothelial cells with recycling of transferrin to the plasma and transfer of the iron into the brain interstitium. Only a small fraction of the transferrin bound by brain capillaries is transcytosed into the brain and CSF, this being one source of CSF transferrin while other sources are local synthesis and transfer from the plasma by the choroid plexuses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-16
JournalBrain Research
Publication statusPublished - 1992

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