Heterogenous distribution of ferroportin-containing neurons in mouse brain

Michael W. Boserup, Jacek Lichota, David Haile, Torben Moos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Iron is crucial for a variety of cellular functions in neuronal cells. Neuronal iron uptake is reflected in a robust and consistent expression of transferrin receptors and divalent metal transporter 1 (DMT 1). Conversely, the mechanisms by which neurons neutralize and possibly excrete iron are less clear. Studies indicate that neurons express ferroportin which could reflect a mechanism for iron export. We mapped the distribution of ferroportin in the adult mouse brain using an antibody prepared from a peptide representing amino acid sequences 223-303 of mouse ferroportin. The antibody specifically detected ferroportin in brain homogenates, whereas homogenates of cultured endothelial cells were devoid of immunoreactivity. In brain sections, ferroportin was confined to neuronal cell bodies and peripheral processes of cerebral cortex, hippocampus, thalamus, brain stem, and cerebellum. In brain stem ferroportin-labeling was particularly high in neurons of cranial nerve nuclei and reticular formation. Ferroportin was hardly detectable in striatum, pallidum, or hypothalamus. Among non-neuronal cells, ferroportin was detected in oligodendrocytes and choroid plexus epithelial cells. A comparison with previous studies on the distribution of transferrin receptors in neurons shows that many neuronal pools coincide with those expressing ferroportin. The data therefore indicate that neuronal iron homeostasis consists of a delicate balance between transferrin receptor-mediated uptake of iron-transferrin and ferroportin-related iron excretion. The findings also suggest a particular high turnover of iron in neuronal regions, such as habenula, hippocampus, reticular formation and cerebellum, as several neurons in these regions exhibit a prominent co-expression of transferrin receptors and ferroportin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-375
Number of pages19
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Blood-brain barrier
  • Iron
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Oxidative stress
  • Transferrin
  • qPCR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomaterials
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Metals and Alloys


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