The Role of Iron in Calciphylaxis-A Current Review

J Clin Med. 2022 Sep 29;11(19):5779. doi: 10.3390/jcm11195779.


Calcific uraemic arteriolopathy (CUA), also known as calciphylaxis, is a rare and often fatal condition, frequently diagnosed in end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients. Although exact pathogenesis remains unclear, iron supplementation is suggested as a potential risk factor. Iron and erythropoietin are the main stay of treatment for anaemia in ESRD patients. Few observational studies support the role of iron in the pathogenesis of calciphylaxis although data from the pivotal trial was not strongly supportive of this argument, i.e., no difference in incidence of calciphylaxis between the low-dose and high-dose iron treatment arms. Elevated levels of vascular cell adhesion molecules in association with iron excess were postulated to the pathogenesis of CUA by causing inflammation and calcification within the microvasculature. In-addition, oxidative stress generated because of iron deposition in cases of systemic inflammation, such as those seen in ESRD, may play a role in vascular calcification. Despite these arguments, a direct correlation between cumulative iron exposure with CUA incidence is not clearly demonstrated in the literature. Consequently, we do not have evidence to recommend iron reduction or cessation in ESRD patients that develop CUA.

Keywords: calcific uraemic arteriolopathy; calciphylaxis; end-stage renal disease; haemodialysis; iron.

Publication types

  • Review

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.