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Summary. The control of hepatic iron uptake was studied in the perfused liver isolated from rats subjected to nutritional iron deficiency. The total hepatic iron uptake and incorporation into ferritin was found to be higher in iron deficiency and during the 48 h of oral refeeding with iron than in the normal state. Specific incorporation of iron into ferritin from a perfusate of normal transferrin iron saturation was enhanced in nutritional iron deficiency as compared to controls after 5 h of perfusion but not after 1 h, suggesting that increased uptake of iron from the perfusate may play a role in stimulating hepatic ferritin synthesis and assembly. This promotion of uptake into ferritin was inhibited by cycloheximide suggesting that enhanced incorporation of iron is dependent upon de novo synthesis of apoferritin. In control, nutritionally iron deficient and iron-refed rats there was a significant, direct correlation between the transferrin-iron saturation of the perfusate at physiological transferrin concentrations and total hepatic iron uptake after 5 h perfusion.

A significant positive correlation was found between the hepatic total and ferritin iron uptake and the transferrin synthetic rate measured in the same liver. It is proposed that in the liver the negative feedback of iron supply on transferrin synthesis may be linked with a positive feedback on ferritin synthesis. The timecourse of these reciprocal responses suggests a role for hepatic ferritin and/or a component of the non-haem, non-ferritin iron pool in the regulation of transferrin synthesis.