Purpose of review: To summarize recent findings regarding the effects of inflammation on iron (Fe) metabolism and to review studies detailing the influence of poor Fe status on physical and cognitive performance.
Recent findings: Hepatic expression and release of hepcidin, a negative regulator of Fe status, is increased by the actions of the inflammatory cytokine interleukin-6. Inflammation associated with chronic disease, obesity, and exercise is associated with elevated interleukin-6 and hepcidin levels, which may result in diminished Fe status.
Summary: Decrements in Fe status due to insufficient dietary Fe intake and/or the inflammatory response may degrade physical and cognitive performance. Future studies should clarify whether dietary or other therapeutic interventions to mitigate inflammation attenuate hepcidin-mediated declines in Fe status.