Regulation of Iron-Related Molecules In the Rat Hippocampus: Sex- and Age-Associated Differences

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Abstract

Iron accumulation, especially that of free oxidized ferrous iron, has been shown to induce tissue oxidative damage and contribute to brain aging and the development of neurodegenerative disease. Here we examine whether sex and advanced age affect the expression of iron-related molecules that participate in regulating free iron levels (heme oxygenase 1 (HO1), iron-regulatory protein 1 (IRP1), and ferritin heavy chain (FTH)) and whether changes in the expression of these molecules are associated with differences in the expression of alpha-synuclein (ASN) which is thought to be a critical regulator in the pathogenesis of neurodegeneration. Using a well-established aging animal model, we demonstrate that the expression of HO1, FTH, and IRP1 mRNAs is higher in the female hippocampus than that observed in male Fischer 344/NNiaHSD x Brown Norway/BiNia (F344BN) rats, regardless of age group. Consistent with these sex-associated alterations in iron-related regulators, the expression of ASN mRNA and protein in the female hippocampus was lower than that found in male rats. These results suggest a sex-dependent difference in regulating the expression of molecules involved in iron metabolism and neurodegeneration. A similar finding in humans, if present, may help to shed light on why sex may affect the incidence of neurodegenerative disorders.

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