Metabolic crossroads of iron and copper

Nutr Rev. 2010 Mar;68(3):133-47. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00271.x.


Interactions between the essential dietary metals, iron and copper, have been known for many years. This review highlights recent advances in iron-copper interactions with a focus on tissues and cell types important for regulating whole-body iron and copper homeostasis. Cells that mediate dietary assimilation (enterocytes) and storage and distribution (hepatocytes) of iron and copper are considered, along with the principal users (erythroid cells) and recyclers of red cell iron (reticuloendothelial macrophages). Interactions between iron and copper in the brain are also discussed. Many unanswered questions regarding the role of these metals and their interactions in health and disease emerge from this synopsis, highlighting extensive future research opportunities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Copper / metabolism*
  • Drug Interactions
  • Enterocytes / metabolism
  • Erythroid Cells / metabolism
  • Hepatocytes / metabolism
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Iron / metabolism*
  • Macrophages / metabolism


  • Copper
  • Iron