Chapter

Medical Geochemistry

pp 91-99

Date:

Magnetite Minerals in the Human Brain: What Is Their Role?

  • Pierpaolo ZuddasAffiliated withInstitut des Sciences de la Terre de Paris, Université Pierre et Marie Curie – Paris Sorbonne Email author 
  • , D. FaivreAffiliated withDepartment of Biomaterials, Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces
  • , J. R. DuhamelAffiliated withCentre de Neuroscience Cognitive, CNRS Université Claude Bernard Lyon1

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Abstract

Although it has long been known that magnetite (Fe3O4) can be formed biochemically by bacteria, protists, and a variety of living organisms, it is only in the past 20 years that magnetite has discovered to be present in the human brain. Researchers have documented the presence of magnetite nanocrystals in the human brain using magnetometric methods and transmission electron microscopy.

To understand the mechanism behind the formation of magnetite nanocrystals in the human brain, we have chosen to take a transdisciplinary approach associating studies of magnetite biomineralization in other species and geochemical research.

Although the exact role of magnetite nanocrystals on human cerebral physiology has yet to be determined, we suspect that it plays a significant role in the nervous system.

Keywords

Brain magnetic nanominerals Human nervous system Biomagnetite