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Researchers discover hormone that controls supply of iron in red blood cell production
Date:6/1/2014

A UCLA research team has discovered a new hormone called erythroferrone, which regulates the iron supply needed for red blood-cell production.

Iron is an essential functional component of hemoglobin, the molecule that transports oxygen throughout the body. Using a mouse model, researchers found that erythroferrone is made by red blood-cell progenitors in the bone marrow in order to match iron supply with the demands of red blood-cell production. Erythroferrone is greatly increased when red blood-cell production is stimulated, such as after bleeding or in response to anemia.

The erythroferrone hormone acts by regulating the main iron hormone, hepcidin, which controls the absorption of iron from food and the distribution of iron in the body. Increased erythroferrone suppresses hepcidin and allows more iron to be made available for red blood-cell production.

"If there is too little iron, it causes anemia. If there is too much iron, the iron overload accumulates in the liver and organs, where it is toxic and causes damage," said senior author Dr. Tomas Ganz, a professor of medicine and pathology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "Modulating the activity of erythroferrone could be a viable strategy for the treatment of iron disorders of both overabundance and scarcity."

The early findings were reported online June 1 in the journal Nature Genetics.

"Our previous work anticipated that a regulator of hepcidin could be secreted by the bone marrow," said the study's first author, Leon Kautz, a postdoctoral fellow at UCLA. "In this research, we searched for new substances that were made in bone marrow that could fill that role."

Researchers first focused on what happens in the bone marrow after hemorrhage. From there, they focused on a specific protein that was secreted into the blood. This protein attracted their attention because it belonged to a family of proteins involved in cell-to-cell co
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Contact: Amy Albin
aalbin@mednet.ucla.edu
310-794-8672
University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert  

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