The human body cannot actively excrete excess iron. As a consequence, iron absorption must be strictly regulated to ensure adequate iron uptake and prevent toxic iron accumulation. Iron absorption is controlled chiefly by hepcidin, the iron-regulatory hormone. Produced by the liver and secreted into the circulation, hepcidin regulates iron metabolism by inhibiting iron release from cells, including duodenal enterocytes, which mediate the absorption of dietary iron. Hepcidin production increases in response to iron loading and decreases in iron deficiency. Such regulation of hepcidin expression serves to modulate iron absorption to meet body iron demand. This review discusses the proteins that orchestrate hepatic hepcidin production and iron absorption by the intestine. Emphasis is placed on the proteins that directly sense iron and how they coordinate and fine-tune the molecular, cellular, and physiologic responses to iron deficiency and overload.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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