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Zinc induces iron egress from intestinal Caco-2 cells via induction of Hephaestin: A role for PI3K in intestinal iron absorption

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Palsa Kondaiah, Paul A. Sharp, Raghu Pullakhandam

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)987-992
Number of pages6
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Issue number4
Published19 Mar 2020

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  • King's College London


In previous studies we demonstrated that zinc stimulates iron uptake in intestinal Caco-2 cells via Zinc-PI3K-IRP2-DMT1 axis. In the current study we investigated the effect of zinc on basolateral iron release and characterized the associated mechanisms. In Caco-2 cells grown on permeable supports, zinc induced iron transport and expression of DMT1, HEPH mRNA and protein, but not that of FPN1. LY294002, an inhibitor of PI3K, inhibited the zinc-induced iron transport, DMT1, HEPH mRNA and protein expression. In addition, LY294002 also inhibited the basal expression of HEPH and FPN1 resulting in blockade of iron egress from cells. In addition, siRNA-silencing of HEPH led to inhibition of both zinc-induced and basal iron transport. Conversely, TPEN, a chelator of zinc, inhibited iron uptake, DMT1, HEPH and FPN1 mRNA and protein expression. These results suggest that intestinal cell zinc status is a critical determinant of iron absorption and effects are mediated via activation of PI3K. Further, PI3K pathway appears to selectively modulate the expression of iron transporters and iron absorption, therefore this might serve as a therapeutic target in iron overload disorders.

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