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vol.39 issue1Possible roles of the hereditary hemochromatosis protein, HFE, in regulating cellular iron homeostasisGene expression profiling in wild-type and metallothionein mutant fibroblast cell lines author indexsubject indexarticles search
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Biological Research

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EZQUER, FERNANDO et al. Hereditary hemochromatosis: An opportunity for gene therapy. Biol. Res. [online]. 2006, vol.39, n.1, pp.113-124. ISSN 0716-9760.

Levels of body iron should be tightly controlled to prevent the formation of oxygen radicals, lipoperoxidation, genotoxicity, and the production of cytotoxic cytokines, which result in damage to a number of organs. Enterocytes in the intestinal villae are involved in the apical uptake of iron from the intestinal lumen; iron is further exported from the cells into the circulation. The apical divalent metal transporter-1 (DMT1) transports ferrous iron from the lumen into the cells, while the basolateral transporter ferroportin extrudes iron from the enterocytes into the circulation. Patients with hereditary hemochromatosis display an accelerated transepithelial uptake of iron, which leads to body iron accumulation that results in cirrhosis, hepatocellular carcinoma, pancreatitis, and cardiomyopathy. Hereditary hemochromatosis, a recessive genetic condition, is the most prevalent genetic disease in Caucasians, with a prevalence of one in 300 subjects. The majority of patients with hereditary hemochromatosis display mutations in the gene coding for HFE, a protein that normally acts as an inhibitor of transepithelial iron transport. We discuss the different control points in the homeostasis of iron and the different mutations that exist in patients with hereditary hemochromatosis. These control sites may be influenced by gene therapeutic approaches; one general therapy for hemochromatosis of different etiologies is the inhibition of DMT1 synthesis by antisense-generating genes, which has been shown to markedly inhibit apical iron uptake by intestinal epithelial cells. We further discuss the most promising strategies to develop gene vectors and deliver them into enterocytes

Keywords : iron; intestine; hemochromatosis; gene therapy; HFE; DMT1; cirrhosis.

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