The investigation of chelating agents with potential therapeutic value in patients with transfusional iron overload has been facilitated by the use of Chang cell cultures. These cells have been incubated with [59Fe]transferrin for 22 hr, following which most of the intracellular radioiron is found in the cytosol, distributed between a ferritin and a nonferritin form. Iron release from the cells depends on transferrin saturation in the medium, but when transferrin is 100% saturated, which normally does not allow iron release, desferrioxamine, 2,3- dihydroxybenzoic acid, rhodotorulic acid, cholythydroxamic acid, and tropolone all promote the mobilization of ferritin iron and its release from cells. They are effective to an approximately equal degree. The incubation of [59Fe]transferrin with tropolone in vitro at a molar ratio of 1:500 results in the transfer of most of the labeled iron to the chelator, reflecting the exceptionally high binding constant of this compound. How far these phenomena relate to therapeutic potentially remains to be seen.
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