Findings may lead to treatments for hemochromatosis and anemia of chronic disease
A new UCLA and University of Utah study found how a hormone called hepcidin regulates the iron uptake from the diet and its distribution in the body. The study may help develop future treatments for chronic anemia and for diseases of iron overload, such as hemochromatosis. Published online in the journal Science this week, researchers discovered that the hormone hepcidin controls ferroportin, an iron-transporting molecule on the surface of specific cells that contain iron. Hepcidin signals ferroportin not to release iron into the blood stream.
Researchers realized that if there isn’t enough hepcidin to regulate ferroportin, too much iron is taken up from the digestive system into the body, which can lead to hemochromatosis, a major genetic disorder affecting about a million people in the United States. "For the first time we understand what happens in the disease hemochromatosis," said Dr. Tomas Ganz, Ph.D., M.D., one of the study’s principal investigators and professor of medicine and pathology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "We knew that ferroportin is necessary to help release iron into the bloodstream, but didn’t know that hepcidin directly regulates this activity."
Rachel Champeau | EurekAlert!
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