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Iron deficiency is globally prevalent, causing an array of developmental, haematological, immunological, neurological, and cardiometabolic impairments, and is associated with symptoms ranging from chronic fatigue to hair loss. Within cells, iron is utilised in a variety of ways by hundreds of different proteins. Here, we review links between molecular activities regulated by iron and the pathophysiological effects of iron deficiency. We identify specific enzyme groups, biochemical pathways, cellular functions, and cell lineages that are particularly iron dependent. We provide examples of how iron deprivation influences multiple key systems and tissues, including immunity, hormone synthesis, and cholesterol metabolism. We propose that greater mechanistic understanding of how cellular iron influences physiological processes may lead to new therapeutic opportunities across a range of diseases.

Original publication




Journal article


Trends Endocrinol Metab

Publication Date



bioenergetics, enzymes, iron, metabolism, mitochondria