Robert E. Fleming, MD
Professor of Pediatrics and Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
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Saint Louis University (SLU)
Abnormalities of iron homeostasis are common and consequential. In addition to conditions associated with iron deficiency or overload, profound changes in iron distribution occur during conditions of infection or inflammation. Our laboratory investigates the molecular mechanisms determining dietary iron absorption and cellular iron distribution. We are particularly interested in the regulation of the hepatic peptide hormone hepcidin by iron status, erythropoietic activity, and inflammatory signals. We make particular use of cell culture techniques in the study of signal transduction and of transgenic mice as disease model systems. Known participants in the regulatory pathway include transforming growth factor beta, bone morphogenetic proteins, and interleukin 6. We are interested in potential translational studies on the use of serum hepcidin measurements in particular clinical settings. These studies have particular relevance to the study of such childhood disorders as nutritional anemias, neonatal and juvenile forms of hemochromatosis, thalassemias, sickle cell disease, and infectious diseases.