The interactions between iron and neuromelanin (NM) have been studied by means of EPR spectroscopy. The variable temperature EPR spectral features of a specimen of NM extracted from normal human midbrains clearly indicate that iron is present as polynuclear oxy-hydroxy ferric aggregates as well as isolated Fe(III) centres. Ferric oxy-hydroxy phases are typical of the iron storage proteins ferritin and hemosiderin, but the comparison of the variable temperature EPR spectra of ferritin and NM highlights significant differences between the two iron(III)oxy-hydroxy domains. Moreover, further investigations on melanin models synthesised in the presence of either ferritin or a ferric salt as iron sources suggest that the same pathway of formation and inclusion of the polynuclear iron oxide is operating in NM and in the model systems, whatever is the source of iron.
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