Iron overload is a risk factor for diabetes. The link between iron and diabetes was first recognized in pathologic conditions-hereditary hemochromatosis and thalassemia-but high levels of dietary iron also impart diabetes risk. Iron plays a direct and causal role in diabetes pathogenesis mediated both by β cell failure and insulin resistance. Iron also regulates metabolism in most tissues involved in fuel homeostasis, with the adipocyte in particular serving an iron-sensing role. The underlying molecular mechanisms mediating these effects are numerous and incompletely understood but include oxidant stress and modulation of adipokines and intracellular signal transduction pathways.
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