Iron homeostasis in the Metabolic Syndrome


Correspondence to: Elmar Aigner, MD, First Department of Medicine, Paracelsus Medical University Salzburg, Müllner Hauptstrasse 48, Salzburg-5020, Austria. Tel.:(+43)-662-4482-58358; fax: +43-662-4482-881; e-mail:

Christian Datz, MD, Department of Internal Medicine, General Hospital Oberndorf; Teaching Hospital of the Paracelsus Medical University Salzburg, Paracelsusstrasse 37, Oberndorf-5110, Austria. Tel.: (+43)-6272-4334-533; Fax: +43-6272-4334-200; e-mail:


The metabolic syndrome (MetS) affects iron homeostasis in a many-faceted fashion. On the one side, hyperferritinaemia with normal or mildly elevated transferrin saturation is observed in approximately one-third of patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) or the MetS. This constellation has been named the ‘dysmetabolic iron overload syndrome (DIOS)’. Current evidence suggests that elevated body iron stores exert a detrimental effect on the clinical course of obesity-related conditions and that iron removal improves insulin sensitivity and delays the onset of T2DM. On the other side, iron deficiency is a frequent finding in more progressed stages of obesity. The mechanisms underlying the DIOS and obesity-related iron deficiency appear strikingly similar as elevated hepcidin concentrations, low expression of duodenal ferroportin (FPN) and impaired iron absorption are found in both conditions. This review summarizes the current knowledge about the dysregulation of iron homeostasis in the MetS and particularly in its hepatic manifestation NAFLD.