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Biochemistry. 2012 Jul 24;51(29):5705-24. doi: 10.1021/bi300752r. Epub 2012 Jul 9.

Mechanisms of mammalian iron homeostasis.

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Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research, Jewish General Hospital and Department of Medicine, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada.


Iron is vital for almost all organisms because of its ability to donate and accept electrons with relative ease. It serves as a cofactor for many proteins and enzymes necessary for oxygen and energy metabolism, as well as for several other essential processes. Mammalian cells utilize multiple mechanisms to acquire iron. Disruption of iron homeostasis is associated with various human diseases: iron deficiency resulting from defects in the acquisition or distribution of the metal causes anemia, whereas iron surfeit resulting from excessive iron absorption or defective utilization causes abnormal tissue iron deposition, leading to oxidative damage. Mammals utilize distinct mechanisms to regulate iron homeostasis at the systemic and cellular levels. These involve the hormone hepcidin and iron regulatory proteins, which collectively ensure iron balance. This review outlines recent advances in iron regulatory pathways as well as in mechanisms underlying intracellular iron trafficking, an important but less studied area of mammalian iron homeostasis.

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