The effect of desferrioxamine on transferrin receptors, the cell cycle and growth rates of human leukaemic cells

A Bomford, J Isaac, S Roberts, A Edwards, Stephen Young, R Williams

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55 Citations (Scopus)


The effect of the iron chelator, desferrioxamine, on transferrin binding, growth rates and the cell cycle was investigated in the human leukaemic cell line, K562. At all concentrations of the chelator (2-50 microM) binding of 125I-transferrin was increased by 24 h and reached a maximum at 72-96 h. Maximum binding (6-8-fold increased) occurred in cells treated with 20 microM-desferrioxamine, in contrast with control cells which, at 96 h, showed a 50% decrease over initial binding. Scatchard analysis at 4 degrees C showed that this increased binding was due to an increase in the number of receptors, as the Kd was similar in induced (1.8 nM) and control (1.5 nM) cells. After 96 h cells, cultured with 20 and 50 microM-desferrioxamine accumulated 59Fe from bovine transferrin at over twice the rate found with control cells, reflecting the increase in transferrin receptors. Although iron uptake was unimpaired by the chelator there was a dose-dependent inhibition of cell growth, with control cells completing three divisions in 96 h and those in 10 microM-desferrioxamine only two divisions. At the highest concentration (50 microM), cell division was abrogated although cell viability was maintained (85%). In contrast, DNA synthesis was not markedly affected, except at 50 microM-desferrioxamine when incorporation of [3H]thymidine was 52% of that in control cells. Flow cytometry revealed that there was a progressive accumulation of the cells in the active phases of their cycle (S, G2 + M). Desferrioxamine may increase transferrin receptors in two ways: by chelating a regulatory pool of iron within the cell, and by arresting cells in S phase when receptors are maximally expressed
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-249
JournalBiochemical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1986


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