Regional Variation in the Levels of Transferrin in the CNS of Normal and Myelin‐Deficient Rats

James R. Connor, Terry M. Phillips, M. R. Lakshman, Kevin D. Barron, Richard E. Fine, Charles K. Csiza

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Abstract: Transferrin (Tf), the iron mobilization protein, is synthesized mainly in the liver. Recently, both Tf and a mRNA for Tf have been demonstrated in oligodendrocylcs in the rat brain. The present study used a biochemical assay for determining the levels of Tf in various brain regions of normal rats compared with the level of those obtained from rats with a genetic mutation characterized by an almost complete failure to develop myelin. In myelin‐deficient (md) rats, no Tf‐positive oligodendrocytes were seen immunohistochemically in the gray or white matter of the CNS. Quantitatively, levels of Tf throughout the CNS of the md rat were decreased to ∼5% of the normal values despite a normal hepatic synthetic rate. In the normal rat brain, the cerebellum contained the highest concentration of Tf, followed by the pons, the cerebral cortex, and the caudate‐putamen, with the latter two sites being similar. Regional variation in the amount of Tf was in general agreement with published reports on the variation of iron and Tf receptor levels in the CNS. Immunohistochemical examination with antiserum to galactocerebroside (a myelin‐specific lipid) was used for extending biochemical reports that glycoiipid‐synthesizing enzymes are deficient in md rats. No immunostaining in the md rat was observed following immunoreaction for galactocerebroside, whereas white matter oligodendrocytes were intensely marked in the normal rat. Robust astrogliosis was present in both the gray and white matter of the md rats. It is not known at present whether the ábility to accumulate Tf is necessary for oligodendrocytic survival or if Tf accumulation is more directly related to myelinogenesis. The lack of Tf in the md rat suggests a critical role for oligodendrocytes in Tf accumulation and, consequently, iron regulation in the CNS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1523-1529
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of neurochemistry
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1987

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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