Extracellular iron chelators protect kidney cells from hypoxia/reoxygenation

Mark S. Paller, Bo E. Hedlund

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Iron is an important contributor to reoxygenation injury because of its ability to promote hydroxyl radical formation. In previous in vivo studies, we demonstrated that iron chelators that underwent glomerular filtration provided significant protection against postischemic renal injury. An in vitro system was employed to further characterize the protection provided by extracellular iron chelators. Primary cultures of rat proximal tubular epithelial cells were subjected to 60 min hypoxia and 30 min reoxygenation (H/R). During H/R, there was a 67% increase in ferrozine-detectable iron in cell homogenates and increased release of iron into the extracellular space. Cells pretreated with either deferoxamine (DFO) or hydroxyethyl starch-conjugated deferoxamine (HES-DFO), an iron chelator predicted to be confined to the extracellular space, were greatly protected against lethal cell injury. To further localize the site of action of DFO and HES-DFO, tracer quantities of 59Fe were added to DFO or HES-DFO, and their distribution after 2 h was quantitated. Less than 0.1% of DFO entered the cells, whereas essentially none of the HES-DFO was cell-associated. These findings suggest that iron was released during hypoxia/reoxygenation and caused lethal cell injury. Iron chelators confined to the extracellular space provided substantial protection against injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)597-603
Number of pages7
JournalFree Radical Biology and Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1994
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements -- This study was supported by an American Heart Association Grant-in-Aid and an extramural grant from Baxter Healthcare Corporation.


  • Deferoxamine
  • Epithelial cell
  • Extracellular
  • Free radicals
  • Hypoxia
  • Iron
  • Kidney
  • Reoxygenation


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