New publication on opioid control of iron transport

Dr. Elena Irollo and colleagues from the Meucci lab recently published a new study on how morphine uses the iron transporter divalent metal transporter 1 (DMT1) to control iron metabolism in cortical neurons. The study also reports a new set of molecular tools to study DMT1 in a variety of cellular systems. This work continues a longstanding story on how morphine and mu-opioid agonists can impair cognitive function in people with HIV by dysregulating neuronal iron metabolism.

The study is open access and freely available at the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology.

DMT1 Visual abstract

Morphine uses the iron transporter DMT1 to move endolysosomal iron into the cytoplasm of cortical neurons, which later upregulates the iron storage protein ferritin heavy chain. Our previous work reported excess ferritin heavy chain is associated with lower dendritic spine density in prefrontal cortex neurons and cognitive deficits in an animal model of neuroHIV.