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Maintaining iron homeostasis is essential for proper cardiac function. Both iron deficiency and iron overload are associated with cardiomyopathy and heart failure via complex mechanisms. Although ferritin plays a central role in iron metabolism by storing excess cellular iron, the molecular function of ferritin in cardiomyocytes remains unknown. To characterize the functional role of Fth (ferritin H) in mediating cardiac iron homeostasis and heart disease. Mice expressing a conditional Fth knockout allele were crossed with 2 distinct Cre recombinase-expressing mouse lines, resulting in offspring that lack Fth expression specifically in myocytes (MCK-Cre) or cardiomyocytes (Myh6-Cre). Mice lacking Fth in cardiomyocytes had decreased cardiac iron levels and increased oxidative stress, resulting in mild cardiac injury upon aging. However, feeding these mice a high-iron diet caused severe cardiac injury and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, with molecular features typical of ferroptosis, including reduced glutathione (GSH) levels and increased lipid peroxidation. Ferrostatin-1, a specific inhibitor of ferroptosis, rescued this phenotype, supporting the notion that ferroptosis plays a pathophysiological role in the heart. Finally, we found that Fth-deficient cardiomyocytes have reduced expression of the ferroptosis regulator Slc7a11, and overexpressing Slc7a11 selectively in cardiomyocytes increased GSH levels and prevented cardiac ferroptosis. Our findings provide compelling evidence that ferritin plays a major role in protecting against cardiac ferroptosis and subsequent heart failure, thereby providing a possible new therapeutic target for patients at risk of developing cardiomyopathy.


Xuexian Fang, Zhaoxian Cai, Hao Wang, Dan Han, Qi Cheng, Pan Zhang, Feng Gao, Yingying Yu, Zijun Song, Qian Wu, Peng An, Sicong Huang, Jianwei Pan, Hou-Zao Chen, Jinghai Chen, Andreas Linkermann, Junxia Min, Fudi Wang. Loss of Cardiac Ferritin H Facilitates Cardiomyopathy via Slc7a11-Mediated Ferroptosis. Circulation research. 2020 Jul 31;127(4):486-501

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PMID: 32349646

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