The effect of iron loading on membrane potential and cellular contractility was examined in cultured heart cells obtained from newborn rat ventricles exposed to ferric ammonium citrate at iron concentrations of 20, 40, and 80 μ/ml for 24 hours. The main functional effect of iron loading was depression of the overshoot potential. Severe arrhythmias were encountered in two of eight studies with 40 μ/ml iron and in two of seven studies with 80 μg/ml iron, but they were not found in any of the 29 control studies (p < 0.01). Iron loading also resulted in a significant enhancement of cellular LDH release, indicating a loss of cell membrane integrity. In vitro treatment of iron-loaded cells with deferoxamine, a selective iron-chelating compound, resulted in a striking reversal of the ironinduced depression in the plateau phase of action potential, the disappearance of arrhythmias, and a reduction in LDH leakage. These favorable effects of deferoxamine lend support to the contention that the observed abnormalities following iron-loading were specific expressions of iron toxicity. Although these observations are consistent with iron-induced peroxidative damage to membrane lipld components, further studies are required in order to elucidate the nature of such a putative membrane effect of excess iron.
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|Published - Jan 1989