Iron and virulence in the family Enterobacteriaceae

Crit Rev Microbiol. 1988;16(2):81-111. doi: 10.3109/10408418809104468.


The ability of bacterial pathogens to acquire iron in the host is an essential component of the disease process. Pathogenic Enterobacteriaceae spp. may either scavenge host iron sources such as heme or induce high-affinity iron-transport systems to remove iron from host proteins. The ease with which iron is acquired from the host will be at least partially determined by the iron status of the host at the time of infection. In response to infection, mammalian hosts reduce serum iron levels and withhold iron from the invading microorganisms. Thus the competition for iron is an active process which influences the outcome of a host-bacterial interaction.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Enterobacteriaceae / genetics
  • Enterobacteriaceae / metabolism
  • Enterobacteriaceae / pathogenicity*
  • Enterobacteriaceae / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Iron / metabolism*
  • Iron Chelating Agents / physiology*


  • Iron Chelating Agents
  • Iron