Elevated serum ferritin and increased cellular iron concentrations are risk factors for diabetes; however, the etiology of this association is unclear. Metabolic tissues such as pancreas, liver, and adipose tissue (AT), as well as the immune cells resident in these tissues, may be involved. Recent studies demonstrate that the polarization status of macrophages has important relevance to their iron-handling capabilities. Furthermore, a subset of macrophages in AT have elevated iron concentrations and a gene expression profile indicative of iron handling, a capacity diminished in obesity. Because iron overload in adipocytes increases systemic insulin resistance, iron handling by AT macrophages may have relevance not only to adipocyte iron stores but also to local and systemic insulin sensitivity.
Published by Elsevier Ltd.