Iron and glutathione at the crossroad of redox metabolism in neurons
Neurons, as non-dividing cells, encounter a myriad of stressful conditions throughout their lifespan. In particular, there is increasing evidence that iron progressively accumulates in the brain with age and that iron-induced oxidative stress is the cause of several forms of neurodegeneration. Here, we review recent evidence that gives support to the following notions: 1) neuronal iron accumulation leads to oxidative stress and cell death; 2) neuronal survival to iron accumulation associates with decreased expression of the iron import transporter DMT1 and increased expression of the efflux transporter IREG1; and 3) the adaptive process of neurons towards iron-induced oxidative stress includes a marked increase in both the expression of the catalytic subunit of gamma glutamate-cysteine ligase and glutathione. These findings may help to understand aging-related neurodegeneration hallmarks: oxidative damage, functional impairment and cell death.