Regional and cellular distribution of mitochondrial ferritin in the mouse brain

Amanda M. Snyder, Elizabeth B. Neely, Sonia Levi, Paolo Arosio, James R. Connor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Iron and mitochondrial dysfunction are important in many neurodegenerative diseases. Several iron transport proteins have been identified that are associated with mitochondria, most recently mitochondrial ferritin. Here we describe the cellular distribution of mitochondrial ferritin in multiple regions of the brain in C57/BL6 mice. Mitochondrial ferritin was found in all regions of the brain, although staining intensity varied between regions. Mitochondrial ferritin was detected throughout the layers of cerebral cortex and in the cerebellum, hippocampus, striatum, choroid plexus, and ependymal cells. The cell type in the brain that stains most prominently for mitochondrial ferritin is neuronal, but oligodendrocytes also stain strongly in both gray matter and in white matter tracts. Mice deficient in H-ferritin do not differ in the mitochondrial ferritin staining pattern or intensity compared with C57/BL6 mice, suggesting that there is no compensatory expression of these proteins. In addition, by using inbred mouse strains with differing levels of iron content, we have shown that regional brain iron content does not affect expression of mitochondria ferritin. The expression of mitochondria ferritin appears to be more influenced by mitochondrial density. Indeed, at an intracellular level, mitochondrial ferritin immunoreaction product is strongest where mitochondrial density is high, as seen in the ependymal cells. Given the importance and relationship between iron and mitochondrial activity, understanding the role of mitochondrial ferritin can be expected to contribute to our knowledge of mitochondrial dysfunction and neurodegenerative disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3133-3143
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Research
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2010


  • Iron
  • Iron storage
  • Mitochondria
  • Neuronal cells
  • Oligodendrocytes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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