Considerable evidence suggests that oxidative stress may be involved in the pathogenesis of Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs). To investigate the involvement of iron metabolism in TSEs, we examined the expression levels of iron regulatory proteins (IRPs), ferritins, and binding activities of IRPs to iron-responsive element (IRE) in scrapie-infected mice. We found that the IRPs-IRE-binding activities and ferritins were increased in the astrocytes of hippocampus and cerebral cortex in the brains of scrapie-infected mice. These results suggest that alteration of iron metabolism contributes to development of neurodegeneration and that some protective mechanisms against iron-induced oxidative damage may occur during the pathogenesis of TSEs.
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