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    Anemia and iron deficiency (ID) are common complications in patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), but their underlying causes remain unclear. This study investigated the incidence and characteristics of anemia and micronutrient deficiencies in PDAC patients before initiating chemotherapy. A total of 103 PDAC patients were included, comprising 67 in the palliative and 36 in the adjuvant groups. The overall incidence of anemia was 42.7% (n = 44), with comparable rates in both groups. Normocytic and normochromic anemia were predominant, with mild and moderate cases observed in 32% and 10.7% of the cohort, respectively. ID was evident in 51.4% of patients, with absolute ID more frequent in the adjuvant than in the palliative group (19.4% vs. 13.4%). Functional ID occurred more often in the palliative than in the adjuvant group (41.8% vs. 25%). Vitamin B12 and folate deficiency occurred in <5% (n = 5) of patients. Furthermore, 8.7% (n = 9) of patients had chronic kidney disease and anemia. To elucidate mechanisms of iron deficiency, the study explored the expression of iron regulators (hepcidin (HEP), ferroportin (FPN), and ZIP14 protein) and mitochondrial mass in PDAC tissue with immunohistochemical (IHC) staining and Perl's Prussian blue to detect iron deposits on available tumor samples (n = 56). ZIP14 expression was significantly higher in less advanced tumors (p = 0.01) and correlated with mitochondrial mass (p < 0.001), potentially indicating its role in local iron homeostasis. However, no significant impact of tissue iron regulators on patient survival was observed. Perl's Prussian blue staining revealed iron deposits within macrophages, but not in pancreatic duct cells. Furthermore, the GEPIA database was used to compare mRNA expression of iron regulators (HEP, FPN, and ZIP14) and other genes encoding iron transport and storage, including Transferrin Receptor Protein 1 (TfR1) and both ferritin chain subunits (FTH and FTL), in PDAC and normal pancreatic samples. FPN, TfR1, FTH, and FTL showed higher expression in tumor tissues, indicating increased iron usage by cancer. ZIP14 expression was higher in the pancreas than in PDAC and was correlated with FPN expression. The study highlights the importance of baseline iron status assessment in managing PDAC patients due to the high incidence of anemia and iron deficiency. Furthermore, ZIP14, in addition to HEP and FPN, may play a crucial role in local iron homeostasis in PDAC patients, providing valuable insights into the underlying mechanisms of iron dysregulation.


    Malgorzata Osmola, Beata Gierej, Katarzyna Mleczko-Sanecka, Aneta Jończy, Olga Ciepiela, Leszek Kraj, Bogna Ziarkiewicz-Wróblewska, Grzegorz Władysław Basak. Anemia, Iron Deficiency, and Iron Regulators in Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma Patients: A Comprehensive Analysis. Current oncology (Toronto, Ont.). 2023 Aug 18;30(8):7722-7739

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    PMID: 37623041

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