The role of ferroptosis in organ toxicity

Hum Exp Toxicol. 2021 Dec;40(12_suppl):S851-S860. doi: 10.1177/09603271211052987. Epub 2021 Nov 8.


Ferroptosis, an iron-dependent form of programmed cell death, is characterized by iron overload, increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, and depletion of glutathione (GSH) and lipid peroxidation. Lipophilic antioxidants and iron chelators can prevent ferroptosis. GSH-dependent glutathione peroxidase 4 (GPX4) prevents lipid ROS accumulation. Ferroptosis is thought to be initiated through GPX4 inactivation. Moreover, mitochondrial iron overload derived from the degradation of ferritin is involved in increasing ROS generation. Ferroptosis has been suggested to explain the mechanism of action of organ toxicity induced by several drugs and chemicals. Inhibition of ferroptosis may provide novel therapeutic opportunities for treatment and even prevention of such organ toxicities.

Keywords: Ferritinophagy; cardiotoxicity; hepatotoxicity; nephrotoxicity; neurotoxicity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions*
  • Ferritins / metabolism
  • Ferroptosis / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Ferritins