, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 825-835

First online:

Iron deficiency on neuronal function

  • Pablo MuñozAffiliated withCentro Interdisciplinario de Neurociencias de Valparaíso, Universidad de Valparaíso Email author 
  • , Alexis HumeresAffiliated withCEMC, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de ChileIBALAB, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de ChileDepartamento de Morfofunción, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Diego Portales

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Because of the intrinsic ability of iron to catalyze the formation of reactive oxygen species, it has been associated with oxidative stress and neurodegenerative diseases. However, iron deficiency (ID) also negatively impacts various functions of the brain, suggesting that iron plays an important physiological role in neuronal processes such as myelination, synaptogenesis, behavior and synaptic plasticity (SP). ID not only produces changes in the hippocampus, striatum, amygdale or prefrontal cortex, it also affects the interaction among these systems. In both humans and rodents, the perturbations of these structures are associated to cognitive deficits. These cognitive alterations have been well correlated with changes in neural plasticity, the possible cellular substrate of memory and learning. Given that SP is strongly affected by early ID and the lasting-neurological consequences remain even after ID has been corrected, it is important to prevent ID as well as to seek effective therapeutic interventions that reduce or reverse the long-term effects of the ID in the nervous system. This review will give an overview of the literature on the effects of iron deficit in neuronal functions such as behavior, neurotransmission and SP. We also discuss our recent data about the possible oxidative effect of iron on the mechanisms involved in neural plasticity.


Iron Synaptic plasticity Calcium signaling Hippocampus Cognitive impartment