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Am J Hematol. 1993 Jan;42(1):67-73.

A concise review: iron absorption--the mucin-mobilferrin-integrin pathway. A competitive pathway for metal absorption.

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University of South Alabama, Mobile.


Newly identified iron binding proteins isolated from rat duodenal homogenates permit better understanding of iron absorption. Mucins bind iron at acid pH to keep iron soluble and available for absorption at the more alkaline pH of the duodenum; this explains iron deficiency following prolonged achlorhydria. Integrin (90/150 kD) was identified on the absorptive surface of enterocytes in association with radioiron and is believed to facilitate transit of iron through the microvillous membrane. Mobilferrin, a 56 kD iron binding protein, was isolated from enterocyte cytosol. It coprecipitates with integrin and appears in close association with integrins in the apical cytoplasm. We postulate it accepts dietary iron from integrin and acts as the shuttle protein for iron in the cytoplasm. Since iron in enterocytes remains in equilibrium with body stores, we postulate mucosal iron uptake is regulated by the number of iron binding sites either occupied or unoccupied by iron on mobilferrin. Iron repletion of enterocytes from body stores is accomplished via transferrin receptors on the posterolateral membranes of enterocytes. Increased transfer of iron from blood into absorptive enterocytes occurs in iron replete animals to inhibit mucosal uptake of dietary iron. Little transfer of iron from plasma to enterocytes occurs in iron deficiency. Enhanced mucosal transfer of iron into the body occurs with increased body need for iron. The exact mechanism for mucosal transfer of iron into the plasma has not been defined but may also be mediated by an integrin.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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