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Hepatology. 2013 Aug;58(2):788-98. doi: 10.1002/hep.26401. Epub 2013 Jul 1.

Hepatocyte divalent metal-ion transporter-1 is dispensable for hepatic iron accumulation and non-transferrin-bound iron uptake in mice.

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


Divalent metal-ion transporter-1 (DMT1) is required for iron uptake by the intestine and developing erythroid cells. DMT1 is also present in the liver, where it has been implicated in the uptake of transferrin-bound iron (TBI) and non-transferrin-bound iron (NTBI), which appears in the plasma during iron overload. To test the hypothesis that DMT1 is required for hepatic iron uptake, we examined mice with the Dmt1 gene selectively inactivated in hepatocytes (Dmt1(liv/liv) ). We found that Dmt1(liv/liv) mice and controls (Dmt1(flox/flox) ) did not differ in terms of hepatic iron concentrations or other parameters of iron status. To determine whether hepatocyte DMT1 is required for hepatic iron accumulation, we crossed Dmt1(liv/liv) mice with Hfe(-) (/) (-) and hypotransferrinemic (Trf(hpx/hpx) ) mice that develop hepatic iron overload. Double-mutant Hfe(-) (/) (-) Dmt1(liv/liv) and Trf(hpx/hpx) ;Dmt1(liv/liv) mice were found to accumulate similar amounts of hepatic iron as did their respective controls. To directly assess the role of DMT1 in NTBI and TBI uptake, we injected (59) Fe-labeled ferric citrate (for NTBI) or (59) Fe-transferrin into plasma of Dmt1(liv/liv) and Dmt1(flox/flox) mice and measured uptake of (59) Fe by the liver. Dmt1(liv/liv) mice displayed no impairment of hepatic NTBI uptake, but TBI uptake was 40% lower. Hepatic levels of transferrin receptors 1 and 2 and ZRT/IRT-like protein 14, which may also participate in iron uptake, were unaffected in Dmt1(liv/liv) mice. Additionally, liver iron levels were unaffected in Dmt1(liv/liv) mice fed an iron-deficient diet.


Hepatocyte DMT1 is dispensable for hepatic iron accumulation and NTBI uptake. Although hepatocyte DMT1 is partially required for hepatic TBI uptake, hepatic iron levels were unaffected in Dmt1(liv/liv) mice, suggesting that this pathway is a minor contributor to the iron economy of the liver.

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