It’s long been known that excess iron is found in the brains of patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD), an incurable neurodegenerative condition that affects motor function. The mechanism by which the iron wreaks damage on neurons involved in PD has not been clear. Research from the Andersen lab at the Buck Institute suggests that the damage stems from an impairment in the lysosome, the organelle that acts as a cellular recycling center for damaged proteins. Scientists report the impairment allows excess iron to escape into the neurons where it causes toxic oxidative stress. The research will be published online in The Journal of Neuroscience on Jan. 27, 2016.
Dopaminergic neurons in the human substantia nigra, the cells preferentially lost in Parkinson’s disease. The yellow staining represents iron-dependent staining of the neurons.
Credit: Subramanian Rajagopalan, MSc. Buck Institute for Research on Aging