The role of iron metabolism in cancer therapy focusing on tumor-associated macrophages

Dandan Dong, Gejing Zhang, Jiancheng Yang, Bin Zhao, Shenghang Wang, Luyao Wang, Ge ZHANG, Peng Shang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Iron is an essential micronutrient in mammalian cells for basic processes such as DNA synthesis, cell cycle progression, and mitochondrial activity. Macrophages play a vital role in iron metabolism, which is tightly linked to their phagocytosis of senescent and death erythrocytes. It is now recognized that the polarization process of macrophages determines the expression profile of genes associated with iron metabolism. Although iron metabolism is strictly controlled by physiology, cancer has recently been connected with disordered iron metabolism. Moreover, in the environment of cancer, tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) exhibit an iron release phenotype, which stimulates tumor cell survival and growth. Usually, the abundance of TAMs in the tumor is implicated in poor disease prognosis. Therefore, important attention has been drawn toward the development of tumor immunotherapies targeting these TAMs focussing on iron metabolism and reprogramming polarized phenotypes. Although further systematic research is still required, these efforts are almost certainly valuable in the search for new and effective cancer treatments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8028-8039
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Cellular Physiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology

User-Defined Keywords

  • cancer therapy
  • iron metabolism
  • macrophages polarization
  • TAMs
  • tumor microenvironment


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