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Wanting Shu, Bailey H. Baumann, Ying Song, Yingrui Liu, Xingwei Wu, Joshua L. Dunaief; Iron Accumulates in Retinal Vascular Endothelial Cells But Has Minimal Retinal Penetration After IP Iron Dextran Injection in Mice. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2019;60(13):4378-4387. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.19-28250.
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Iron supplementation therapy is used for iron-deficiency anemia but has been associated with macular degeneration in a 43-year-old patient. Iron entry into the neurosensory retina (NSR) can be toxic. It is important to determine conditions under which serum iron might cross the blood retinal barrier (BRB) into the NSR. Herein, an established mouse model of systemic iron overload using high-dose intraperitoneal iron dextran (IP FeDex) was studied. In addition, because the NSR expresses the iron regulatory hormone hepcidin, which could limit iron influx into the NSR, we gave retina-specific hepcidin knockout (RS-HepcKO) mice IP FeDex to test this possibility.
Wild-type (WT) and RS-HepcKO mice were given IP FeDex. In vivo retina imaging was performed. Blood and tissues were analyzed for iron levels. Quantitative PCR was used to measure levels of mRNAs encoding iron regulatory and photoreceptor-specific genes. Ferritin and albumin were localized in the retina by immunofluorescence.
IP FeDex in both WT and RS-HepcKO mice induced high levels of iron in the liver, serum, retinal vascular endothelial cells (rVECs), and RPE, but not the NSR. The BRB remained intact. Retinal degeneration did not occur.
Following injection of high-dose IP FeDex, iron accumulated in the BRB, but not the NSR. Thus, the BRB can shield the NSR from iron delivered in this manner. This ability is not dependent on NSR hepcidin production.
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