Iron is at the forefront of a number of pivotal biological processes due to its ability to readily accept and donate electrons. However, this property may also catalyze the generation of free radicals with ensuing cellular and tissue toxicity. Accordingly, throughout evolution numerous pathways and proteins have evolved to minimize the potential hazardous effects of iron cations and yet allow for readily available iron cations in a wide variety of fundamental metabolic processes. One of the extensively studied proteins in the context of systemic and cellular iron metabolisms is ferritin. While clinicians utilize serum ferritin to monitor body iron stores and inflammation, it is important to note that the vast majority of ferritin is located intracellularly. Intracellular ferritin is made of two different subunits (heavy and light chain) and plays an imperative role as a safe iron depot. In the past couple of decades our understanding of ferritin biology has remarkably improved. Additionally, a significant body of evidence has emerged describing the significance of the kidney in iron trafficking and homeostasis. Here, we briefly discuss some of the most important findings that relate to the role of iron and ferritin heavy chain in the context of kidney-related diseases and, in particular, vascular calcification, which is a frequent complication of chronic kidney disease.
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