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22 June 2016 : Review article  

The Role of Iron and Iron Overload in Chronic Liver Disease

Sandra MilicABCDEFG, Ivana MikolasevicABCDEFG, Lidija OrlicABCDEFG, Edita DevcicABCDE, Nada Starcevic-CizmarevicABCD, Davor StimacABCDE, Miljenko KapovicABCD, Smiljana RisticABCDEF

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.896494

Med Sci Monit 2016; 22:2144-2151

Abstract

ABSTRACT: The liver plays a major role in iron homeostasis; thus, in patients with chronic liver disease, iron regulation may be disturbed. Higher iron levels are present not only in patients with hereditary hemochromatosis, but also in those with alcoholic liver disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and hepatitis C viral infection. Chronic liver disease decreases the synthetic functions of the liver, including the production of hepcidin, a key protein in iron metabolism. Lower levels of hepcidin result in iron overload, which leads to iron deposits in the liver and higher levels of non-transferrin-bound iron in the bloodstream. Iron combined with reactive oxygen species leads to an increase in hydroxyl radicals, which are responsible for phospholipid peroxidation, oxidation of amino acid side chains, DNA strain breaks, and protein fragmentation. Iron-induced cellular damage may be prevented by regulating the production of hepcidin or by administering hepcidin agonists. Both of these methods have yielded successful results in mouse models.

Keywords: Chronic Disease, Hemochromatosis - metabolism, Hepcidins - metabolism, Homeostasis, Iron - metabolism, Iron Overload - metabolism, Liver - metabolism, Liver Diseases - metabolism

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Medical Science Monitor eISSN: 1643-3750
Medical Science Monitor eISSN: 1643-3750