The contribution of iron to protein aggregation disorders in the central nervous system

Karina Joppe, Anna Elisa Roser, Fabian Maass, Paul Lingor

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


The homeostasis of iron is of fundamental importance in the central nervous system (CNS) to ensure biological processes such as oxygen transport, mitochondrial respiration or myelin synthesis. Dyshomeostasis and accumulation of iron can be observed during aging and both are shared characteristics of several neurodegenerative diseases. Iron-mediated generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) may lead to protein aggregation and cellular toxicity. The process of misfolding and aggregation of neuronal proteins such as α-synuclein, Tau, amyloid beta (Aβ), TDP-43 or SOD1 is a common hallmark of many neurodegenerative disorders and iron has been shown to facilitate protein aggregation. Thus, both, iron and aggregating proteins are proposed to amplify their detrimental effects in the disease state. In this review, we give an overview on effects of iron on aggregation of different proteins involved in neurodegeneration. Furthermore, we discuss the proposed mechanisms of iron-mediated toxicity and protein aggregation emphasizing the red-ox chemistry and protein-binding properties of iron. Finally, we address current therapeutic approaches harnessing iron chelation as a disease-modifying intervention in neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
Issue numberJAN
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Disease mechanism
  • Iron
  • Iron chelator
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Protein aggregation


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