Iron metabolism in colorectal cancer

Front Oncol. 2023 Feb 22;13:1098501. doi: 10.3389/fonc.2023.1098501. eCollection 2023.


Iron, as one of the essential trace elements in the human body, is involved in a wide range of critical biochemical reactions and physiological processes, including the maintenance of the normal cell cycle, mitochondrial function, nucleotide metabolism, and immune response. In this context, iron is naturally associated with cancer occurrence. Cellular iron deficiency can induce apoptosis, however, iron can also engage in potentially harmful reactions that produce free radicals because of its capacity to gain and lose electrons. Studies suggest that dietary iron, particularly heme iron, may be one of the leading causes of colorectal cancer (CRC). Moreover, patients with CRC have abnormal iron absorption, storage, utilization, and exportation. Therefore, iron is crucial for the development and progression of CRC. Elaborating on the alterations in iron metabolism during the onset and advancement of CRC would help to further explain the role and mechanism of iron inside the body. Thus, we reviewed the alterations in numerous iron metabolism-related molecules and their roles in CRC, which may provide new clues between iron metabolism and CRC.

Keywords: CRC; CRC related genes; ferroptosis; iron metabolism; iron supplement therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

Grant support

This study was funded by the Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong Province, China (No. 2022A1515012315); the Beijing Science and Technology Medical Development Foundation (No. KC2021-JX-0186-94); the 2021 Special Innovation Project of Guangdong Provincial Department of Education (No. 2021KTSCX015); In-depth promotion of the innovation-driven assistance project in Foshan City (No. 2021043); the 2018 Foshan City Outstanding Young Medical Talent Training Project (No. 600009); 2020 Shunde District Competition Support Talent Project (no serial number); Southern Medical University Shunde Hospital Scientific Research Startup Plan (No. SRSP2018001); Guangdong Medical Science and Technology Research Fund Project (No. A2019302); the Science and Technology Plan Project of Foshan Science and Technology Bureau (No. 2018AB000683); National Natural Science Foundation of China, National Natural Science Youth Fund Project (No. 81802879); Southern Medical University Scientific Research Startup Plan (No. PY2018N110); and Foshan City’s 13th Five-Year Key Specialty Project (FSGSP2D135051).