Ironing out the details: Untangling dietary iron and genetic background in diabetes


The search for genetic risk factors in type-II diabetes has been hindered by a failure to consider dietary variables. Dietary nutrients impact metabolic disease risk and severity and are essential to maintaining metabolic health. Genetic variation between individuals confers differences in metabolism, which directly impacts response to diet. Most studies attempting to identify genetic risk factors in disease fail to incorporate dietary components, and thus are ill-equipped to capture the breadth of the genome’s impact on metabolism. Understanding how genetic background interacts with nutrients holds the key to predicting and preventing metabolic diseases through the implementation of personalized nutrition. Dysregulation of iron homeostasis is associated with type-II diabetes, but the link between dietary iron and metabolic dysfunction is poorly defined. High iron burden in adipose tissue induces insulin resistance, but the mechanisms underlying adipose iron accumulation remain unknown. Hepcidin controls dietary iron absorption and distribution in metabolic tissues, but it is unknown whether genetic variation influencing hepcidin expression modifies susceptibility to dietary iron-induced insulin resistance. This review highlights discoveries concerning the axis of iron homeostasis and adipose function and suggests that genetic variation underlying dietary iron metabolism is an understudied component of metabolic disease

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