Can iron chelators influence the progression of atherosclerosis?

Hemoglobin. 2008;32(1-2):123-34. doi: 10.1080/03630260701726871.


Epidemiological studies and experimental data suggest iron involvement in atherosclerosis. The relation between iron and atherosclerosis is complex and remains contradictory. In thalassemia patients, non transferrin bound iron (NTBI) and free hemoglobin (Hb) are present in plasma and may accelerate atherogenesis, but its progression may be inhibited by iron chelators. The mechanism whereby iron may stimulate atherogenesis has been intensively investigated. Non transferrin bound iron and sera from subjects with hemochromatosis induced endothelial activation with expression of vascular adhesion molecules and endothelial inflammatory chemokines. Such events could be inhibited by iron chelators and oxygen radical scavengers with intracellular activity. Iron chelators may be effective in preventing vascular damage in patients with high concentrations of NTBI as found in thalassemia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Atherosclerosis / drug therapy
  • Atherosclerosis / metabolism*
  • Atherosclerosis / physiopathology
  • Disease Progression
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism
  • Ferritins / blood
  • Hemochromatosis / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Iron / metabolism*
  • Iron Chelating Agents / metabolism
  • Iron Chelating Agents / therapeutic use
  • Iron Overload / metabolism*
  • Monocytes / metabolism
  • Thalassemia / drug therapy
  • Thalassemia / metabolism*
  • Transferrin / metabolism*


  • Iron Chelating Agents
  • Transferrin
  • Ferritins
  • Iron