Several observations suggest that iron is an essential factor in myelination and oligodendrocyte biology. However, the specific role of iron in these processes remains to be elucidated. This role could be as an essential cofactor in metabolic processes or as a transcriptional or translational regulator. In this study, we used animals models each with a unique defect in iron availability, storage, or transfer to test the hypothesis that disruptions in these mechanisms affect myelinogenesis and myelin composition. Disruption of iron availability either by limiting dietary iron or by altering iron storage capacity resulted in a decrease in myelin proteins and lipids but not the iron content of myelin. Among the integral myelin proteins, proteolipid protein was most consistently affected, suggesting that limiting iron to oligodendrocytes results not only in hypomyelination but also in a decrease in myelin compaction. Mice deficient in transferrin must receive transferrin injections beginning at birth to remain viable, and these mice had increases in all of the myelin components and in the iron content of the myelin. This finding indicates that the loss of endogenous iron mobility in oligodendrocytes could be overcome by application of exogenous transferrin. Overall, the results of this study demonstrate how myelin composition can be affected by loss of iron homeostasis and reveal specific chronic changes in myelin composition that may affect behavior and attempts to rescue myelin deficits.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience