Semin Liver Dis 2005; 25(4): 420-432
DOI: 10.1055/s-2005-923314
Copyright © 2005 by Thieme Medical Publishers, Inc., 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA.

Hepatic Iron Metabolism

Gregory J. Anderson1 , 2 , David M. Frazer2
  • 1Head
  • 2Iron Metabolism Laboratory, The Queensland Institute of Medical Research, PO Royal Brisbane Hospital, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
29 November 2005 (online)


The liver performs three main functions in iron homeostasis. It is the major site of iron storage, it regulates iron traffic into and around the body through its production of the peptide hepcidin, and it is the site of synthesis of major proteins of iron metabolism such as transferrin and ceruloplasmin. Most of the iron that enters the liver is derived from plasma transferrin under normal circumstances, and transferrin receptors 1 and 2 play important roles in this process. In pathological situations, non-transferrin-bound iron, ferritin, and hemoglobin/haptoglobin and heme/hemopexin complexes assume greater importance in iron delivery to the organ. Iron is stored in the liver as ferritin and, with heavy iron loading, as hemosiderin. The liver can divest itself of iron through the plasma membrane iron exporter ferroportin 1, a process that also requires ceruloplasmin. Hepcidin can regulate this iron release through its interaction with ferroportin.


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  • 135 Lee P, Peng H, Gelbart T, Beutler E. The IL-6- and lipopolysaccharide-induced transcription of hepcidin in HFE-, transferrin receptor 2-, and beta 2-microglobulin-deficient hepatocytes.  Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2004;  101 9263-9265
  • 136 Roy C N, Custodio A O, de Graaf J et al.. An Hfe-dependent pathway mediates hyposideremia in response to lipopolysaccharide-induced inflammation in mice.  Nat Genet. 2004;  36 481-485

Gregory J AndersonPh.D. 

Iron Metabolism Laboratory, Queensland Institute of Medical Research, PO Royal Brisbane Hospital, Brisbane, Queensland 4029, Australia