Is early-life iron exposure critical in neurodegeneration?

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Journal Article
Nature Reviews Neurology, 2015, 11 (9), pp. 536 - 544
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© 2015 Macmillan Publishers Limited. The effects of iron deficiency are well documented, but relatively little is known about the long-term implications of iron overload during development. High levels of redox-active iron in the brain have been associated with neurodegenerative disorders, most notably Parkinson disease, yet a gradual increase in brain iron seems to be a feature of normal ageing. Increased brain iron levels might result from intake of infant formula that is excessively fortified with iron, thereby altering the trajectory of brain iron uptake and amplifying the risk of iron-associated neurodegeneration in later life. In this Perspectives article, we discuss the potential long-term implications of excessive iron intake in early life, propose the analysis of iron deposits in teeth as a method for retrospective determination of iron exposure during critical developmental windows, and call for evidence-based optimization of the chemical composition of infant dietary supplements.
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