, Volume 70, Issue 1, pp 23-38,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 13 May 2012

Molecular insights into the regulation of iron metabolism during the prenatal and early postnatal periods


Molecular iron metabolism and its regulation are least well understood in the fetal and early postnatal periods of mammalian ontogenic development. The scope of this review is to summarize recent progress in uncovering the molecular mechanisms of fetal iron homeostasis, introduce the molecules involved in iron transfer across the placenta, and briefly explain the role of iron transporters in the absorption of this microelement during early postnatal life. These issues are discussed and parallels are drawn with the relatively well-established system for elemental and heme iron regulation in adult mammals. We conclude that detailed investigations into the regulatory mechanisms of iron metabolism at early stages of development are required in order to optimize strategies to prevent neonatal iron deficiency. We propose that newborn piglets represent a suitable animal model for studies on iron deficiency anemia in neonates.