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Clin Biochem Rev. 2006 Feb;27(1):5-16.

Normal iron metabolism and the pathophysiology of iron overload disorders.

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1
Department of Gastroenterology, Liverpool Hospital, Liverpool, NSW, Australia.

Abstract

Iron overload disorders represent a heterogenous group of conditions resulting from inherited and acquired causes. If undiagnosed they can be progressive and fatal. Early detection and phlebotomy prior to the onset of cirrhosis can reduce morbidity and normalise life expectancy. We now have greater insight into the complex mechanisms of normal and disordered iron homeostasis following the discovery of new proteins and genetic defects. Here we review the normal mechanisms and regulation of gastrointestinal iron absorption and liver iron transport and their dysregulation in iron overload states. Advances in the understanding of the natural history of iron overload disorders and new methods for clinical detection and management of hereditary haemochromatosis are also reviewed. The current screening strategies target high-risk groups such as first-degree relatives of affected individuals and those with clinical features suggestive of iron loading. Potential ethical, legal and psychosocial issues arising through application of genetic screening programs need to be resolved prior to implementation of general population screening programs.

PMID:
16886043
PMCID:
PMC1390789
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