Too Much Iron As Well As Anemia
In the Journal of Clinical Investigation study, researchers from Weill Cornell and from Isis Pharmaceuticals of Carlsbad, Calif., examined the body's exquisite regulation of iron. Too little iron causes anemia. Too much iron in the body results in organ toxicity such as heart attacks and liver failure. Beta-thalassemia and hemochromatosis are two disorders in which affected individuals accumulate too much iron in their bodies.
Now, Dr. Rivella, with his partners at Isis Pharmaceuticals Dr. Brett P. Monia and Dr. Shuling Guo, have revealed the ballet of molecules that controls iron absorption, as well as what goes wrong and how to potentially correct the deficit.
Iron control is regulated, first and foremost, by hepcidin or Hamp, a hormone secreted into the bloodstream by the liver. Hamp controls the so-called "iron gate" in the intestines, a protein known as ferroportin. Ferroportin allows the body to absorb iron from food to help make red blood cells. (Iron latches on to the oxygen that the blood cells carry.) If iron levels are too high from iron-rich foods that are consumed, Hamp levels increase, which shuts the door on ferroportin's iron gate, blocking iron absorption, says Weill Cornell's Dr. Carla Casu, a postdoctoral researcher in Dr. Rivella's laboratory and one of the two lead authors of this study with Dr. Guo at Isis Pharmaceuticals.
Patients with beta-thalassemia and hemochromatosis have levels of Hamp that are too low, so the b
|Contact: Lauren Woods|
Weill Cornell Medical College