Minimal effect of conditional ferroportin KO in the neural retina implicates ferrous iron in retinal iron overload and degeneration.
Liu Y., Baumann B., Song Y., Zhang K., Sterling JK., Lakhal-Littleton S., Kozmik Z., Su G., Dunaief JL.
Iron-induced oxidative stress can cause or exacerbate retinal degenerative diseases. Retinal iron overload has been reported in several mouse disease models with systemic or neural retina-specific knockout (KO) of homologous ferroxidases ceruloplasmin (Cp) and hephaestin (Heph). Cp and Heph can potentiate ferroportin (Fpn) mediated cellular iron export. Here, we used retina-specific Fpn KO mice to test the hypothesis that retinal iron overload in Cp/Heph DKO mice is caused by impaired iron export from neurons and glia. Surprisingly, there was no indication of retinal iron overload in retina-specific Fpn KO mice: the mRNA levels of transferrin receptor in the retina were not altered at 7-10-months age. Consistent with this, levels and localization of ferritin light chain were unchanged. To "stress the system", we injected iron intraperitoneally into Fpn KO mice with or without Cp KO. Only mice with both retina-specific Fpn KO and Cp KO had modestly elevated retinal iron levels. These results suggest that impaired iron export through Fpn is not sufficient to explain the retinal iron overload in Cp/Heph DKO mice. An increase in the levels of retinal ferrous iron caused by the absence of these ferroxidases, followed by uptake into cells by ferrous iron importers, is most likely necessary.