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Unexpected Link Between Gene In Liver And Iron Overload


12/6/2005 12:33:26 PM

A new study in the December Cell Metabolism reveals an unexpected connection between a tumor suppressor gene in the liver and the normally careful control over the amount of iron absorbed from the diet. The surprising finding demonstrates a critical role for the liver in iron metabolism. The discovery also suggests a new avenue for the treatment of hereditary hemochromatosis, an iron-overload disease that is one of the most common genetic disorders among Caucasians, according to researchers. Chu-Xia Deng, from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, and his colleagues report that mice lacking the SMAD4 gene in the liver only suffer from a toxic buildup of iron, particularly in their liver, kidneys, and pancreas--symptoms similar to those exhibited by humans with hemochromatosis. In other respects, the animals appeared remarkably normal, the researchers found.

Read at EurekAlert!

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