The Role of Iron in the Immune Response to Bacterial Infection

Immunol Res. 2011 May;50(1):1-9. doi: 10.1007/s12026-010-8199-1.


My laboratory has been interested for some time in the influence of iron, a nutrient that is essential for both microbial pathogens and their mammalian hosts, on the course of infectious disease. Our studies indicate that alterations in the expression of host molecules that sequester or transport iron can have direct effects on pathogen growth and can also have an impact on the ability to mount normal immune responses. We have elucidated the mechanistic basis for some of these observations, and have started to apply our findings in strategies to control abnormalities of inflammation and iron metabolism. I will review here what we have learned about the interactions between iron and immunity and discuss the implications of the information that we have acquired.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Infections / immunology*
  • Cation Transport Proteins / metabolism
  • Communicable Diseases / immunology
  • Gene Expression Regulation / immunology
  • Homeostasis / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunity / immunology*
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Intracellular Space / immunology
  • Iron / immunology*


  • Cation Transport Proteins
  • metal transporting protein 1
  • Iron