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A Short Review of Iron Metabolism and Pathophysiology of Iron Disorders

Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine, Henriette Raphael House Guy’s Campus King’s College London, London SE1 1UL, UK
Department of Nutritional Sciences, School of Life Course Sciences, King’s College London, Franklin-Wilkins-Building, 150 Stamford Street, London SE1 9NH, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Medicines 2019, 6(3), 85;
Received: 30 June 2019 / Revised: 1 August 2019 / Accepted: 2 August 2019 / Published: 5 August 2019
PDF [3414 KB, uploaded 5 August 2019]


Iron is a vital trace element for humans, as it plays a crucial role in oxygen transport, oxidative metabolism, cellular proliferation, and many catalytic reactions. To be beneficial, the amount of iron in the human body needs to be maintained within the ideal range. Iron metabolism is one of the most complex processes involving many organs and tissues, the interaction of which is critical for iron homeostasis. No active mechanism for iron excretion exists. Therefore, the amount of iron absorbed by the intestine is tightly controlled to balance the daily losses. The bone marrow is the prime iron consumer in the body, being the site for erythropoiesis, while the reticuloendothelial system is responsible for iron recycling through erythrocyte phagocytosis. The liver has important synthetic, storing, and regulatory functions in iron homeostasis. Among the numerous proteins involved in iron metabolism, hepcidin is a liver-derived peptide hormone, which is the master regulator of iron metabolism. This hormone acts in many target tissues and regulates systemic iron levels through a negative feedback mechanism. Hepcidin synthesis is controlled by several factors such as iron levels, anaemia, infection, inflammation, and erythropoietic activity. In addition to systemic control, iron balance mechanisms also exist at the cellular level and include the interaction between iron-regulatory proteins and iron-responsive elements. Genetic and acquired diseases of the tissues involved in iron metabolism cause a dysregulation of the iron cycle. Consequently, iron deficiency or excess can result, both of which have detrimental effects on the organism. View Full-Text
Keywords: Iron; metabolism; anemia; hepcidin; disorders Iron; metabolism; anemia; hepcidin; disorders

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Yiannikourides, A.; Latunde-Dada, G.O. A Short Review of Iron Metabolism and Pathophysiology of Iron Disorders. Medicines 2019, 6, 85.

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