A review of fluorescence methods for assessing labile iron in cells and biological fluids

Anal Biochem. 2002 May 1;304(1):1-18. doi: 10.1006/abio.2002.5611.


A variety of biochemical, pharmacological, and toxicological properties have been attributed to labile forms of iron that are associated with cells or with biological fluids. Unlike the major fraction of bioiron which is protein bound, the labile bioiron is chelatable and therefore amenable for detection by metal-sensing devices that are coupled to chelation moieties. The present review deals with the detection of various labile forms of iron present in living cells and in fluids of biological interest, in health and disease. The main focus of the review is on the design and application of fluorescent probes as analytical tools for assessing labile iron and iron transport mechanisms and the efficiency of iron chelators in solution and in cellular systems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport, Active
  • Cell Line
  • Fluorescein
  • Fluoresceins
  • Fluorescent Dyes* / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Iron / metabolism*
  • Iron Chelating Agents


  • Fluoresceins
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Iron Chelating Agents
  • Iron
  • Fluorescein
  • fluorexon