Proinflammatory cytokines promote glial heme oxygenase-1 expression and mitochondrial iron deposition: implications for multiple sclerosis Academic Article uri icon

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  • Proinflammatory cytokines, pathological iron deposition, and oxidative stress have been implicated in the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis (MS) and experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). HO-1 mRNA levels and mitochondrial uptake of [(55)Fe]Cl(3)-derived iron were measured in rat astroglial cultures exposed to interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta) or tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) alone or in combination with the heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) inhibitors, tin mesoporphyrin (SnMP) or dexamthasone (DEX), or interferon beta1b (INF-beta). HO-1 expression in astrocytes was evaluated by immunohistochemical staining of spinal cord tissue derived from MS and control subjects. IL-1beta or TNF-alpha promoted sequestration of non-transferrin-derived (55)Fe by astroglial mitochondria. HO-1 inhibitors, mitochondrial permeability transition pore (MTP) blockers and antioxidants significantly attenuated cytokine-related mitochondrial iron sequestration in these cells. IFN-beta decreased HO-1 expression and mitochondrial iron sequestration in IL-1beta- and TNF-alpha-challenged astroglia. The percentage of astrocytes coexpressing HO-1 in affected spinal cord from MS patients (57.3% +/- 12.8%) was significantly greater (p < 0.05) than in normal spinal cord derived from controls subjects (15.4% +/- 8.4%). HO-1 is over-expressed in MS spinal cord astroglia and may promote mitochondrial iron deposition in MS plaques. In MS, IFN-beta may attenuate glial HO-1 gene induction and aberrant mitochondrial iron deposition accruing from exposure to proinflammatory cytokines.


  • Mehindate, K
  • Sahlas, Demetrios
  • Frankel, D
  • Mawal, Y
  • Liberman, A
  • Corcos, J
  • Dion, S
  • Schipper, HM

publication date

  • June 2001

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