PerspectiveImmunology

The “iron will” of the gut

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Science  10 Apr 2020:
Vol. 368, Issue 6487, pp. 129-130
DOI: 10.1126/science.abb2915

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Summary

The importance of trace elements in the mammalian diet, such as minerals, cannot be underestimated. For example, deficiency of iron results in anemia, accompanied by tiredness and fatigue due to the inability to carry oxygen to tissues. Conversely, iron excess is also dangerous, leading to liver disease, heart problems, and diabetes related to iron-mediated oxidative stress. Hence, iron metabolism is tightly controlled at both cellular and systemic levels (1). On page 186 of this issue, Bessman et al. (2) demonstrate an additional level of iron metabolism control that occurs in the gut and is mediated by the interplay between dendritic cells (antigen-presenting cells linking innate with adaptive immunity) and the microbiota through the hormone hepcidin in mice. This cross-talk is essential to allow recovery from intestinal inflammation.

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