Inflammation and diminished iron status: mechanisms and functional outcomes

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Purpose of review

To summarize recent findings regarding the effects of inflammation on iron (Fe) metabolism and to review studies detailing the influence of poor Fe status on physical and cognitive performance.

Recent findings

Hepatic expression and release of hepcidin, a negative regulator of Fe status, is increased by the actions of the inflammatory cytokine interleukin-6. Inflammation associated with chronic disease, obesity, and exercise is associated with elevated interleukin-6 and hepcidin levels, which may result in diminished Fe status.


Decrements in Fe status due to insufficient dietary Fe intake and/or the inflammatory response may degrade physical and cognitive performance. Future studies should clarify whether dietary or other therapeutic interventions to mitigate inflammation attenuate hepcidin-mediated declines in Fe status.

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