Ca2+ channel blockers reverse iron overload by a new mechanism via divalent metal transporter-1

Nat Med. 2007 Apr;13(4):448-54. doi: 10.1038/nm1542. Epub 2007 Feb 11.


Hereditary hemochromatosis and transfusional iron overload are frequent clinical conditions associated with progressive iron accumulation in parenchymal tissues, leading to eventual organ failure. We have discovered a new mechanism to reverse iron overload-pharmacological modulation of the divalent metal transporter-1 (DMT-1). DMT-1 mediates intracellular iron transport during the transferrin cycle and apical iron absorption in the duodenum. Its additional functions in iron handling in the kidney and liver are less well understood. We show that the L-type calcium channel blocker nifedipine increases DMT-1-mediated cellular iron transport 10- to 100-fold at concentrations between 1 and 100 microM. Mechanistically, nifedipine causes this effect by prolonging the iron-transporting activity of DMT-1. We show that nifedipine mobilizes iron from the liver of mice with primary and secondary iron overload and enhances urinary iron excretion. Modulation of DMT-1 function by L-type calcium channel blockers emerges as a new pharmacological therapy for the treatment of iron overload disorders.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport, Active / drug effects
  • COS Cells
  • Calcium Channel Blockers / pharmacology*
  • Calcium Channel Blockers / therapeutic use
  • Cation Transport Proteins / metabolism*
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Electrophysiology
  • Hemochromatosis / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Immunoblotting
  • Iron / metabolism
  • Iron / urine
  • Iron Overload / drug therapy*
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Microarray Analysis
  • Nifedipine / pharmacology*
  • Nifedipine / therapeutic use
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • Calcium Channel Blockers
  • Cation Transport Proteins
  • solute carrier family 11- (proton-coupled divalent metal ion transporters), member 2
  • Iron
  • Nifedipine