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Semin Liver Dis. 2005 Nov;25(4):420-32.

Hepatic iron metabolism.

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Iron Metabolism Laboratory, The Queensland Institute of Medical Research, PO Royal Brisbane Hospital, Australia.


The liver performs three main functions in iron homeostasis. It is the major site of iron storage, it regulates iron traffic into and around the body through its production of the peptide hepcidin, and it is the site of synthesis of major proteins of iron metabolism such as transferrin and ceruloplasmin. Most of the iron that enters the liver is derived from plasma transferrin under normal circumstances, and transferrin receptors 1 and 2 play important roles in this process. In pathological situations, non-transferrin-bound iron, ferritin, and hemoglobin/haptoglobin and heme/hemopexin complexes assume greater importance in iron delivery to the organ. Iron is stored in the liver as ferritin and, with heavy iron loading, as hemosiderin. The liver can divest itself of iron through the plasma membrane iron exporter ferroportin 1, a process that also requires ceruloplasmin. Hepcidin can regulate this iron release through its interaction with ferroportin.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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