Iron is a microelement with the most completely studied biological functions. Its wide dissemination in nature and involvement in key metabolic pathways determine the great importance of this metal for uniand multicellular organisms. The biological role of iron is characterized by its indispensability in cell respiration and various biochemical processes providing normal functioning of cells and organs of the human body. Iron also plays an important role in the generation of free radicals, which under different conditions can be useful or damaging to biomolecules and cells. In the literature, there are many reviews devoted to iron metabolism and its regulation in proand eukaryotes. Significant progress has been achieved recently in understanding molecular bases of iron metabolism. The purpose of this review is to systematize available data on mechanisms of iron assimilation, distribution, and elimination from the human body, as well as on its biological importance and on the major iron-containing proteins. The review summarizes recent ideas about iron metabolism. Special attention is paid to mechanisms of iron absorption in the small intestine and to interrelationships of cellular and extracellular pools of this metal in the human body.
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