Iron deficiency (ID) is the most common micronutrient deficiency, affecting an estimated 2 billion people world wide including 20-30% of pregnant women and their offspring. Many human studies have demonstrated negative effects of early life ID on learning and memory which persist beyond the period of ID despite of prompt iron treatment, observations which are supported by rodent models of early iron deficiency anemia (IDA). In spite of a large, observational literature the mechanisms through which early ID causes acute and persistent brain dysfunction are largely unknown. Mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling is an attractive candidate for mediating the effects of early ID because it integrates cellular metabolic status to regulate fundamental aspects of cellular growth and differentiation. The overall goal of the current studies is to understand the role of iron in regulating mTOR signaling during a critical period of development in the hippocampus by using unique genetic mouse models of hippocampal ID to: 1) Determine when iron is required for hippocampal development 2) Determine the role of iron in mTOR signaling 3) Manipulate iron and mTOR to determine effects on hippocampal structure and behavior. The findings from these experiments demonstrate that mTOR signaling is upregulated by neuronal ID during the same period that rapid hippocampal development requires large amounts of iron. Additionally, rescue of behavioral outcomes in adult animals following restoration of mTOR signaling (through either timely iron repletion or pharmacological suppression) provides functional evidence for a connection between mTOR and the persistent effects of early ID.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. November 2010. Major: Neuroscience. Advisor: Michael Georgieff. 1 computer file (PDF); v, 99 pages.
The Impact of Iron Deficiency During Development on Mammalian Target of Rapamycin Signaling, Neuronal Structure, and Learning and Memory Behavior.
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