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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2009 Jul;1790(7):724-30. doi: 10.1016/j.bbagen.2008.10.010. Epub 2008 Nov 10.

Iron transport and the kidney.

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Faculty of Life Sciences, The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9NT, UK.


Over the last decade there has been an explosion in our understanding of the proteins that modulate iron homeostasis. Much research has focused on the tissues classically associated with iron absorption and metabolism, namely the duodenum, the liver and the reticulo-endothelial system. Expression profiling has highlighted that many of the components associated with iron homeostasis, are also expressed in tissues which hitherto have received relatively little attention in terms of iron research. These include, testis, lung and, the subject of this review, the kidney. The latter is of great interest because other than a source of erythropoietin, a function that is of course of utmost importance for iron homeostasis, the kidney is regarded as more or less irrelevant in terms of iron handling. However, the fact that the kidneys of our favourite subjects, namely rats, mice and humans, contain many if not all of the proteins that are central to iron balance, that in some cases are expressed in considerable amounts, implies that the kidney handles iron in some way that has demanded evolutionary conservation and therefore is likely to be of importance. This review will document the evidence of iron transporter expression in the kidney, detail data showing the expression of other proteins associated with iron homeostasis and discuss the relevance of renal iron transport to pathophysiological states. Based on these data, a hypothetical model of renal iron handling will be presented.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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