Iron Chelators Dictate Immune Cells Inflammatory Ability: Potential Adjuvant Therapy for IBD

Marcello Chieppa, Vanessa Galleggiante, Grazia Serino, Monica Massaro, Angelo Santino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2289-2298
Number of pages10
JournalCurrent Pharmaceutical Design
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Journal Article


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