Studying ferroptosis and iron metabolism pre- and post-radiotherapy treatment in breast cancer patients

J Egypt Natl Canc Inst. 2023 Feb 27;35(1):4. doi: 10.1186/s43046-023-00162-7.


Background: Radiotherapy (RT) is an important part of the treatment of many tumors. Radiotherapy causes oxidative damage in all cellular compartments, including lipid membrane, on a random basis. Toxic lipid peroxidation accumulation has only lately been linked to a regulated type of cell death known as ferroptosis. Iron is required for ferroptosis sensitization in cells.

Aim of the work: This work aimed to study ferroptosis and iron metabolism before and after RT in BC patients.

Subjects and methods: Eighty participants were included divided into two main groups: group I: 40 BC patients treated with RT. Group II: 40 healthy volunteers' age and sex matched as control group. Venous blood samples were collected from BC patients (prior to and after RT) and healthy controls. Glutathione (GSH), malondialdehyde (MDA), serum iron levels and % of transferrin saturation were measured by colorimetric technique. Ferritin, ferroportin, and prostaglandin-endoperoxide synthase 2 (PTGS2) levels were assessed by ELISA.

Results: Serum ferroportin, reduced glutathione, and ferritin showed significant decrease after radiotherapy in comparison to before radiotherapy. However, there was significant increase in serum PTGS2, MDA, % of transferrin saturation and iron levels after radiotherapy in comparison to before radiotherapy.

Conclusion: Radiotherapy induced ferroptosis in breast cancer patients as a new cell death mechanism and PTGS2 is a biomarker of ferroptosis. Iron modulation is a useful approach for the treatment of BC especially if combined with targeted therapy and immune-based therapy. Further studies are warranted to be translated into clinical compounds.

Keywords: Breast cancer; Ferroptosis; Iron profile; Radiotherapy.

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms* / radiotherapy
  • Cyclooxygenase 2
  • Female
  • Ferritins
  • Ferroptosis*
  • Humans
  • Transferrins


  • Cyclooxygenase 2
  • Ferritins
  • Transferrins