Metal binding to transferrin and immune reactions in Parkinson's disease

  • Sarah J. Winsper

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The binding of iron (59Fe) and gallium (67Ga) to the plasma protein transferrin (Tf) was investigated by G75 gel filtration chromatography in control patients and treated and untreated patients with Parkinson's disease (PD). Fe-Tf binding was 100% in all controls and PD patients suggesting that a defect in Fe-Tf binding was not involved in the aetiology of PD. Ga-Tf binding was significantly reduced in both untreated and treated PD patients compared to controls. In addition, treated PD patients had significantly higher Ga-Tf binding than untreated patients. A reduction in metal binding to Tf could result in the increase of a low molecular weight species which may more readily enter the CNS. Alternatively, it could lead to a decrease in the transport of essential metals into the brain via the Tf receptor system.
A significant elevation in neopterin was demonstrated within the plasma of untreated PD patients compared to controls suggesting the activation of a cellular immune response. Furthermore, plasma neopterin was lower in treated compared to untreated PD patients, although the difference was not significant. There was no evidence for the activation of the humoral immune response in untreated or treated PD patients as measured by circulating immune complex (CIC) levels within the plasma.
An inverse relationship between Ga-Tf binding and neopterin was observed in untreated PD patients. The addition of oxidants in the form of potassium permanganate and activated manganese dioxide reduced Ga-Tf binding in control plasma. However, relatively little response was observed using monocyte preparations. The results suggest that oxidants produced by activation of the cellular immune system could damage the Tf molecule thereby reducing its ability to bind metals.
Date of AwardOct 1995
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorRichard A Armstrong (Supervisor)


  • Parkinson's disease
  • transferrin binding
  • neopterin
  • circulating immune complexes
  • immune activation

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