The Role of Iron Regulation in Immunometabolism and Immune-Related Disease

Front Mol Biosci. 2019 Nov 22;6:116. doi: 10.3389/fmolb.2019.00116. eCollection 2019.


Immunometabolism explores how the intracellular metabolic pathways in immune cells can regulate their function under different micro-environmental and (patho-)-physiological conditions (Pearce, 2010; Buck et al., 2015; O'Neill and Pearce, 2016). In the last decade great advances have been made in studying and manipulating metabolic programs in immune cells. Immunometabolism has primarily focused on glycolysis, the TCA cycle and oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) as well as free fatty acid synthesis and oxidation. These pathways are important for providing the energy needs of cell growth, membrane rigidity, cytokine production and proliferation. In this review, we will however, highlight the specific role of iron metabolism at the cellular and organismal level, as well as how the bioavailability of this metal orchestrates complex metabolic programs in immune cell homeostasis and inflammation. We will also discuss how dysregulation of iron metabolism contributes to alterations in the immune system and how these novel insights into iron regulation can be targeted to metabolically manipulate immune cell function under pathophysiological conditions, providing new therapeutic opportunities for autoimmunity and cancer.

Keywords: BH4; anemia; infection; iron; mitochondria.

Publication types

  • Review