Iron is vital for a vast variety of cellular processes and its homeostasis is strictly controlled and regulated. Nevertheless, disorders of iron metabolism are diverse and can be caused by insufficiency, overload or iron mal-distribution in tissues. Iron deficiency (ID) progresses to iron-deficiency anemia (IDA) after iron stores are depleted. Inflammation is of diverse etiology in anemia of chronic disease (ACD). It results in serum hypoferremia and tissue hyperferritinemia, which are caused by elevated serum hepcidin levels, and this underlies the onset of functional iron-deficiency anemia. Inflammation is also inhibitory to erythropoietin function and may directly increase hepcidin level, which influences iron metabolism. Consequently, immune responses orchestrate iron metabolism, aggravate iron sequestration and, ultimately, impair the processes of erythropoiesis. Hence, functional iron-deficiency anemia is a risk factor for several ailments, disorders and diseases. Therefore, therapeutic strategies depend on the symptoms, severity, comorbidities and the associated risk factors of anemia. Oral iron supplements can be employed to treat ID and mild anemia particularly, when gastrointestinal intolerance is minimal. Intravenous (IV) iron is the option in moderate and severe anemic conditions, for patients with compromised intestinal integrity, or when oral iron is refractory. Erythropoietin (EPO) is used to treat functional iron deficiency, and blood transfusion is restricted to refractory patients or in life-threatening emergency situations. Despite these interventions, many patients remain anemic and do not respond to conventional treatment approaches. However, various novel therapies are being developed to treat persistent anemia in patients.
Keywords: anemia; erythropoietin; hepcidin; iron; kidney.