Increased Iron in Brain Associated With Alzheimer’s Disease

A recent UCLA study has shown that individuals with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) have increased ferritin iron levels in the hippocampus, but not the thalamus, and this iron accumulation occurs in conjunction with hippocampus damage.

These findings, along with prior observations, suggest that “increased brain iron may be contributing to the process that leads to AD,” said senior study author George Bartzokis, MD, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, The David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Laboratory of Neuroimaging, Department of Neurology, Division of Brain Mapping, UCLA, and Department of Psychiatry, Greater Los Angeles VA Healthcare System, West Los Angeles, CA.


The study noted that iron accumulates in gray matter regions of the brain as one ages, which may contribute to the risk of developing AD and other age-related diseases. Although previous magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies have demonstrated increased iron deposits in basal ganglia regions, the hippocampus (a region of the brain associated with memory and one of the first regions of the brain to suffer damage in persons with AD) and the thalamus (a region that is generally not affected until the later stages of AD) have rarely been examined.

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