Iron Storage

Iron is stored, mostly in the liver, as ferritin or hemosiderin.

Ferritin is a protein with a capacity of about 4500 iron (III) ions per protein molecule. This is the major form of iron storage.

If the capacity for storage of iron in ferritin is exceeded, a complex of iron with phosphate and hydroxide forms. This is called hemosiderin; it is physiologically available.

As the body burden of iron increases beyond normal levels, excess hemosiderin is deposited in the liver and heart. This can reach the point that the function of these organs is impaired, and death ensues.

Several conditions can lead to excess body iron.

Treatment of excess iron storage involves artificial removal of iron from the body.

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Last modified 1/5/95

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