Constituting an integral part of a heme's porphyrin ring, iron is essential for supplying cells and tissues with oxygen. Given tight links between oxygen delivery and iron availability, it is not surprising that iron deprivation and oxygen deprivation (hypoxia) have very similar consequences at the molecular level. Under hypoxia, the expression of major iron homeostasis genes including transferrin, transferrin receptor, ceruloplasmin, and heme oxygenase-1 is activated by hypoxia-inducible factors to provide increased iron availability for erythropoiesis in an attempt to enhance oxygen uptake and delivery to hypoxic cells. Iron-response proteins (IRP1 and IRP2) and "cap-n- collar" bZIP transcriptional factors (NE-F2 p45; Nrf1, 2, and 3; Bach1 and 2) also control gene and protein expression of the key iron homeostasis proteins. In this article, we give an overview of the mechanisms by which iron pathways are regulated by hypoxia at multiple levels. In addition, potential clinical benefits of manipulating iron pathways in the hypoxia-related conditions anemia and ischemia are discussed.

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Free Radical Biology and Medicine
Department of Biology

Chepelev, N.L. (Nikolai L.), & Willmore, W. (2011). Regulation of iron pathways in response to hypoxia. Free Radical Biology and Medicine (Vol. 50, pp. 645–666). doi:10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2010.12.023