Iron is involved in various physiological processes of the human body to maintain normal functions. Abnormal iron accumulation in brain has been reported as a pathogenesis of several neurodegenerative disorders and cognitive impairments. Hemojuvelin (HVJ) is a membrane-bound and soluble protein in mammals that is responsible for the iron overload condition known as juvenile hemochromatosis. Although iron accumulation in brain has been related to neurodegenerative diseases, it remains unknown the effect of mutation of HVJ gene on cognitive performance. In our studies, HJV(-/-) mice showed deficits in novel object recognition and Morris water maze tests. Furthermore, the expression ration of apoptotic marker Bax and anti-apoptotic marker Bcl-2 in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex showed higher levels in HJV(-/-) mice. Our results suggested that deletion of HJV gene could increase apoptosis in brain which might contribute to learning and memory deficits in mutant mice. These results indicated that HJV(-/-) mice would be a useful model to study cognitive impairment induced by iron overload in brain.
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