Samira Lakhal-Littleton - Cardiac Sciences - 'More to iron than the erythron'
Historically, understanding of iron’s importance for physiology and medicine has been centred around haemoglobin, and iron deficiency has been synonymous with anaemia. However, the past decade has seen a paradigm shift in our understanding of the physiological importance of iron, and we now know that non-haemoglobin iron is essential for fundamental processes within the cardiovascular system, such as contractile function of the heart and regulation of vascular tone. In clinical practice, the growing recognition of the importance of iron has led to greater focus on the treatment of non-anaemic iron deficiency, particularly in heart failure. However, this change in clinical practice remains uncoupled from mechanistic understanding of where and how iron exerts its effects. To address this problem, our research combines clinical studies of functional and iron parameters in heart failure patients with mechanistic studies in preclinical models of heart failure. Techniques range from proteomic and metabolomic characterisation of patient samples, to advanced MR imaging of Heart function in pre-clinical models, to cell-based work in cardiac and vascular cells. The aim is to understand how non-anaemic iron deficiency affects heart failure patients, and use that understanding to implement optimal iron replacement therapies.