Ferritin has been shown to attenuate iron-catalyzed oxidative damage in several experimental conditions. Since oxidative damage has been implicated in the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis (MS) and experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE), an animal model of MS, we tested the hypothesis that ferritin would act to attenuate disease. The experimental design was to increase plasma ferritin levels during the active stage of EAE by giving systemic injections of apoferritin and then compare disease activity between these mice and EAE mice administered vehicle. Additional mice received systemic injections of iron, which induces ferritin synthesis, in order to test the effects of exogenous iron on the disease course. Although plasma levels of ferritin were found to be elevated in both apoferritin and iron-injected EAE mice, only apoferritin treatment resulted in a reduction in disease activity compared to EAE mice given vehicle. The suppressive effects of apoferritin administration suggest that the increase in endogenous ferritin levels that have been previously observed in the cerebrospinal fluid of chronic progressive MS patients with active disease might be functioning to limit the severity and spread of tissue damage.
Copyright 2002 S. Karger AG, Basel