Expert Reviews in Molecular Medicine


Review Article

Iron-regulatory proteins: molecular biology and pathophysiological implications

Gaetano Cairoa1 c1 and Stefania Recalcatia1

a1 Institute of General Pathology, University of Milan School of Medicine, Milan, Italy.


Iron is required for key cellular functions, and there is a strong link between iron metabolism and important metabolic processes, such as cell growth, apoptosis and inflammation. Diseases that are directly or indirectly related to iron metabolism represent major health problems. Iron-regulatory proteins (IRPs) 1 and 2 are key controllers of vertebrate iron metabolism and post-transcriptionally regulate expression of the major iron homeostasis genes. Here we discuss how dysregulation of the IRP system can result from both iron-related and unrelated effectors and explain how this can have important pathological consequences in several human disorders.


c1 Corresponding author: Gaetano Cairo, Institute of General Pathology, University of Milan, Via Mangiagalli 31, 20133 Milan, Italy. Tel: +39 0250315350; Fax: +39 0250315338; E-mail: