Ceruloplasmin-ferroportin system of iron traffic in vertebrates

World J Biol Chem. 2014 May 26;5(2):204-15. doi: 10.4331/wjbc.v5.i2.204.


Safe trafficking of iron across the cell membrane is a delicate process that requires specific protein carriers. While many proteins involved in iron uptake by cells are known, only one cellular iron export protein has been identified in mammals: ferroportin (SLC40A1). Ceruloplasmin is a multicopper enzyme endowed with ferroxidase activity that is found as a soluble isoform in plasma or as a membrane-associated isoform in specific cell types. According to the currently accepted view, ferrous iron transported out of the cell by ferroportin would be safely oxidized by ceruloplasmin to facilitate loading on transferrin. Therefore, the ceruloplasmin-ferroportin system represents the main pathway for cellular iron egress and it is responsible for physiological regulation of cellular iron levels. The most recent findings regarding the structural and functional features of ceruloplasmin and ferroportin and their relationship will be described in this review.

Keywords: Ceruloplasmin; Copper; Ferroportin; Hemochromatosis; Iron homeostasis.

Publication types

  • Review