Interaction between macrophages and ferroptosis

Cell Death Dis. 2022 Apr 16;13(4):355. doi: 10.1038/s41419-022-04775-z.


Ferroptosis, a newly discovered iron-dependent cell death pathway, is characterized by lipid peroxidation and GSH depletion mediated by iron metabolism and is morphologically, biologically and genetically different from other programmed cell deaths. Besides, ferroptosis is usually found accompanied by inflammatory reactions. So far, it has been found participating in the development of many kinds of diseases. Macrophages are a group of immune cells that widely exist in our body for host defense and play an important role in tissue homeostasis by mediating inflammation and regulating iron, lipid and amino acid metabolisms through their unique functions like phagocytosis and efferocytosis, cytokines secretion and ROS production under different polarization. According to these common points in ferroptosis characteristics and macrophages functions, it's obvious that there must be relationship between macrophages and ferroptosis. Therefore, our review aims at revealing the interaction between macrophages and ferroptosis concerning three metabolisms and integrating the application of certain relationship in curing diseases, mostly cancer. Finally, we also provide inspirations for further studies in therapy for some diseases by targeting certain resident macrophages in distinct tissues to regulate ferroptosis. FACTS: Ferroptosis is considered as a newly discovered form characterized by its nonapoptotic and iron-dependent lipid hydroperoxide, concerning iron, lipid and amino acid metabolisms. Ferroptosis has been widely found playing a crucial part in various diseases, including hepatic diseases, neurological diseases, cancer, etc. Macrophages are phagocytic immune cells, widely existing and owning various functions such as phagocytosis and efferocytosis, cytokines secretion and ROS production. Macrophages are proved to participate in mediating metabolisms and initiating immune reactions to maintain balance in our body. Recent studies try to treat cancer by altering macrophages' polarization which damages tumor microenvironment and induces ferroptosis of cancer cells. OPEN QUESTIONS: How do macrophages regulate ferroptosis of other tissue cells specifically? Can we use the interaction between macrophages and ferroptosis in treating diseases other than cancer? What can we do to treat diseases related to ferroptosis by targeting macrophages? Is the use of the relationship between macrophages and ferroptosis more effective than other therapies when treating diseases?

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / metabolism
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Ferroptosis*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Iron / metabolism
  • Lipid Peroxidation
  • Lipid Peroxides / metabolism
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Neoplasms* / metabolism
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Tumor Microenvironment


  • Amino Acids
  • Cytokines
  • Lipid Peroxides
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Iron