The amount of iron within the cell is carefully regulated in order to provide an adequate level of micronutrient while preventing its accumulation and toxicity. Iron excess is believed to generate oxidative stress, understood as an increase in the steady state concentration of oxygen radical intermediates. Iron is transported and stored in specific proteins (transferrin, lactoferrin, ferritin and heme proteins). Excess iron is sequestered in ferritin, the main intracellular iron storage protein. Ferritins play a key role in preventing iron toxicity because of their ability to sequester several thousand iron atoms in their central cavity in a soluble, non-toxic bioavailable form. However, there are indications that ferritins may have other functions in addition to the well assessed role in storing intracellular iron. Moreover in plants, since in the presence of oxygen, iron solubility and iron toxicity through free radical production are major problems, iron traffic has to be strictly controlled and ferritin is one of the proteins involved. The understanding of the biological functions of the iron storage compartment is a major challenge which is relevant not only to normal physiology but also to understand many diseases associated with perturbations of iron metabolism and their treatment. In this context, it is feasible to consider ferritin form plants as a novel alternative dietary iron source with an enormous potential contribution to the eradication of global iron deficiency.
Buy this Article