Iron deficiency alters the day-night variation in monoamine levels in mice

Laura E. Bianco, Erica L. Unger, Christopher J. Earley, John L. Beard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Monoamine metabolism in the central nervous system is altered by dietary iron deficiency, with a stronger effect seen during the active than rest span of the circadian cycle. In this report, we examined changes in intracellular and extracellular monoamine levels, synthetic enzymes, transporter and receptor densities, and responses to amphetamine-induced dopamine (DA) efflux in iron-deficient and iron-sufficient mice. Extracellular striatal DA levels were 15-20% higher in all groups during the active dark phase compared to the inactive light phase, with correspondingly lower dopamine transporter (DAT) and higher tyrosine hydroxylase levels. Iron deficiency decreased DAT density by 20% and 28% in the light and dark phases, respectively, and elevated the DOPAC/DA ratio only in the dark, indicating that iron deficiency does interact with the normal diurnal cues for cyclicity. Enhanced DA efflux after amphetamine stimulation indicates no limitation on monoamine synthesis and release and is consistent with altered synaptic efficacy and perhaps recycling of DA in iron deficiency. These experimental findings provide new evidence that brain iron insufficiency does have a differential effect on the DA system at different biological times of the day and night and may be causally related to the phasic motor symptoms observed in Restless Legs Syndrome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)447-463
Number of pages17
JournalChronobiology International
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2009


  • Amphetamine
  • Brain iron
  • Circadian rhythm
  • Dopamine
  • Restless legs syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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