An invertebrate model in examining the effect of acute ferric iron exposure on proprioceptive neurons

Mikaela L. Wagers, Ashley Starks, Maya O. Abul-Khoudoud, Sufia M. Ahmed, Abraham W. Alhamdani, Clair Ashley, Patrick C. Bidros, Constance O. Bledsoe, Kayli E. Bolton, Jerone G. Capili, Jamie N. Henning, Bethany J. Ison, Madison Moon, Panhavuth Phe, Samuel B. Stonecipher, Isabelle N. Taylor, Logan T. Turner, Aaron K. West, Robin L. Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Iron is an essential element for plant and animal life and is found in soil, fresh waters and marine waters. The Fe3+ ion is a vital prosthetic group and cofactor to mitochondrial electron transport complexes and numerous proteins involved in normal functioning. Despite its importance to life-sustaining processes, overexposure results in toxicity. For example, ferric iron (Fe3+) accumulation in the mammalian central nervous system is associated with various neurological disorders. Although current literature addresses the long-term effects of Fe3+ overload, fewer studies exist examining the effects of acute exposure. Using the blue crab (Callinectes sapidus), we investigate the effects of acute Fe3+ overload on proprioception within the propodite-dactylopodite (PD) nerve. For proprioceptive studies, 10- and 20-mM ferric chloride and ferric ammonium citrate solutions were used at 5- and 20- min exposure times. Exposure to 20 mM concentrations of ferric chloride and ferric ammonium citrate reduced excitability in proprioceptive neurons. Thus, Fe3+ likely blocks stretch-activated channels or voltage-gated Na+ channels. The depressive effects of Fe3+ are partly reversible following saline washout, indicating cells are not acutely damaged. Gadolinium (GdCl3, 1 and 10 mM) was used to examine the effects of an additional trivalent ion comparator. Gd3+ depressed PD nerve compound action potential amplitude while increasing the compound action potential duration. This study is relevant in demonstrating the dose-dependent effects of acute Fe3+ and Gd3+ exposure on proprioception and provides a model system to further investigate the mechanisms by which metals act on the nervous system.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109558
JournalComparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part - C: Toxicology and Pharmacology
StatePublished - Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Department of Biology, University of Kentucky. Chellgren Endowed Funding (R.L.C.). College of Arts and Sciences summer fellowship (M.L.W.).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023


  • Crustacean
  • Gadolinium
  • Iron
  • Neurophysiology
  • Sensory
  • Stretch activated channels

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Toxicology
  • Cell Biology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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