Iron and its homeostasis are intimately tied to the inflammatory response. The adaptation to iron deficiency, which confers resistance to infection and improves the inflammatory condition, underlies what is probably the most obvious link: the anemia of inflammation or chronic disease. A large number of stimulatory inputs must be integrated to tightly control iron homeostasis during the inflammatory response. In order to understand the pathways of iron trafficking and how they are regulated, this article presents a brief overview of iron homeostasis. A major focus is on the regulation of the peptide hormone hepcidin during the inflammatory response and how its function contributes to the process of iron withdrawal. The review also summarizes new and emerging information about other iron metabolic regulators and effectors that contribute to the inflammatory response. Potential benefits of treatment to ameliorate the hypoferremic condition promoted by inflammation are also considered.
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