Ovariectomy and estrogen treatment modulate iron metabolism in rat adipose tissue

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Graphical abstractIron is essential for many biological processes and its deficiency or excess is involved in pathological conditions. At cellular level, the maintenance of iron homeostasis is largely accomplished by the transferrin receptor (TfR-1) and by ferritin, whose expression is mainly regulated post-transcriptionally by iron regulatory proteins (IRPs).This study examines the hypothesis that modification of serum estrogen levels by ovariectomy and 17β-estradiol (E2) treatment in rats modulate serum iron-status parameters and iron metabolism in adipose tissue. In particular, we evaluated the RNA binding of IRP1 by electrophoretic mobility-shift assay and IRP1, ferritin, and TfR-1 expression in adipose tissue by Western blot analysis.Ovariectomy, besides a lowered serum iron and transferrin iron binding capacity, remarkably decreased the binding activity of IRP1 in peritoneal and subcutaneous adipose tissues, and these effects were reversed by E2 treatment. Moreover, ovariectomy determined a decrease of IRP1 expression, which was significant in subcutaneous adipose tissue. Consistent with IRP1 regulation, an increase of ferritin and a decrease of TfR-1 expression were observed in peritoneal adipose tissue from ovariectomized animals, while the treatment with E2 reconstituted TfR-1 level. A similar expression profile of TfR-1 was observed in subcutaneous adipose tissue, where ferritin level did not change in ovariectomized animals, and was increased after E2 treatment.Our results indicate that estrogen level changes can regulate the binding activity of the IRP1, and consequently ferritin and TfR-1 expression in adipose tissue, suggesting a relationship among serum and tissue iron parameters, estrogen status and adiposity.

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