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Biometals. 2012 Feb;25(1):115-24. doi: 10.1007/s10534-011-9487-5. Epub 2011 Aug 9.

Effect of dietary iron deficiency and overload on the expression of ZIP metal-ion transporters in rat liver.

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Food Science and Human Nutrition Department, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA.


The mammalian ZIP (Zrt-, Irt-like Protein) family of transmembrane transport proteins consists of 14 members that share considerable homology. ZIP proteins have been shown to mediate the cellular uptake of the essential trace elements zinc, iron, and manganese. The aim of the present study was to determine the effect of dietary iron deficiency and overload on the expression of all 14 ZIP transporters in the liver, the main site of iron storage. Weanling male rats (n = 6/group) were fed iron-deficient (FeD), iron-adequate (FeA), or iron-overloaded (FeO) diets in two independent feeding studies. In study 1, diets were based on the TestDiet 5755 formulation and contained iron at 9 ppm (FeD), 215 ppm (FeA), and 27,974 ppm (3% FeO). In study 2, diets were based on the AIN-93G formulation and contained iron at 9 ppm Fe (FeD), 50 ppm Fe (FeA), or 18916 ppm (2% FeO). After 3 weeks, the FeD diets depleted liver non-heme iron stores and induced anemia, whereas FeO diets resulted in hepatic iron overload. Quantitative RT-PCR revealed that ZIP5 mRNA levels were 3- and 8-fold higher in 2% FeO and 3% FeO livers, respectively, compared with FeA controls. In both studies, a consistent downregulation of ZIP6, ZIP7, and ZIP10 was also observed in FeO liver relative to FeA controls. Studies in H4IIE hepatoma cells further documented that iron loading affects the expression of these ZIP transporters. Overall, our data suggest that ZIP5, ZIP6, ZIP7, and ZIP10 are regulated by iron, indicating that they may play a role in hepatic iron/metal homeostasis during iron deficiency and overload.

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