Iron and diabetes risk

Cell Metab. 2013 Mar 5;17(3):329-41. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2013.02.007.


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.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adiponectin / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / etiology*
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Hemochromatosis / physiopathology
  • Homeostasis / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology*
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / metabolism*
  • Iron Overload / complications*
  • Iron, Dietary / adverse effects*
  • Iron, Dietary / metabolism
  • Lipid Metabolism / physiology
  • Models, Biological*


  • Adiponectin
  • Iron, Dietary
  • Glucose