BACKGROUND: The importance of hemoproteins for life lies largely in their iron-mediated chemical properties. In the human body, there are about 4 g of iron, a precious resource preserved by sophisticated recycling mechanisms. Iron is also important for pathogen growth, so it is not surprising that immune cells developed mechanisms to reduce iron availability in cases of inflammation. In healthy conditions, macrophages degrade hemoproteins and export iron, while if inflammation develops, they retain cytoplasmic iron to reduce extracellular iron concentrations. Iron-rich macrophages possess a stronger inflammatory ability, which explains the chronic inflammatory response observed in states of iron overload. Inflammatory bowel syndromes are often characterized by intestinal blood loss and consequent anemia, but iron-supplementation therapies may exacerbate the inflammatory response. In chronically transfused patients iron overload is frequently observed; the iron can become toxic and in excess, even fatal if not treated with iron-chelating drugs.
CONCLUSION: In the present review, we discuss the importance of iron homeostasis in states of health and inflammation, focusing on iron and iron-chelation treatment for IBD patients. Oral administration of natural ironchelating chemicals may be an effective adjuvant therapy for IBD patients, acting on numerous aspects of chronic inflammatory syndromes.
- Journal Article