Association between norepinephrine levels and abnormal iron status in patients with chronic heart failure: Is iron deficiency more than a comorbidity?

Pedro Moliner, Cristina Enjuanes, Marta Tajes, Miguel Cainzos-Achirica, Josep Lupón, Alberto Garay, Santiago Jimenez-Marrero, Sergi Yun, Núria Farré, Mercé Cladellas, Carles Díez, Jose Gonzalez-Costello, Josep Comin-Colet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Background Mechanisms underlying iron homeostasis dysregulation in patients with chronic heart failure remain unsettled. In cardiomyocyte models, norepinephrine may lead to intracellular iron depletion, but the potential association between catecholamines (sympathetic activation markers) and iron metabolism biomarkers in chronic heart failure is unknown. Methods and Results In this cross-sectional analysis, we studied the association between plasma norepinephrine levels and serum iron status biomarkers indicating iron storage (ferritin), iron transport (transferrin saturation), and iron demand (soluble transferrin receptor) in a prospective cohort of 742 chronic heart failure patients (mean age, 72±11 years; 56% male). Impaired iron status was defined as ferritin <100 μg/L or transferrin saturation <20%. Impaired iron status was observed in 69% of patients. In multivariate models, greater norepinephrine levels were associated with impaired iron transport (transferrin saturation <20%, odds ratio=2.28; 95% CI [1.19-4.35]; P=0.013), but not with impaired iron storage (ferritin <100 μg/L, odds ratio=1.25; 95% CI [0.73-2.16]; P=0.415). Norepinephrine was a significant predictor of increased iron demand (soluble transferrin receptor, standardized β-coefficient=0.12; P=0.006) and low transferrin saturation (standardized β-coefficient=-0.12; P=0.003). However, norepinephrine levels were not associated with iron or ferritin levels ( P>0.05). Adjusted norepinephrine marginal means were significantly higher in patients with impaired iron status compared with those with normal iron status (528 pg/mL [505-551] versus 482 pg/mL [448-518], respectively; P=0.038). Conclusions In chronic heart failure patients, increased sympathetic activation estimated with norepinephrine levels is associated with impaired iron status and, particularly, dysregulation of biomarkers suggesting impaired iron transport and increased iron demand. Whether the relationship between norepinephrine and iron metabolism is bidirectional and entails causality need to be elucidated in future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere010887
JournalJournal of the American Heart Association
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2019


  • Anemia
  • Chronic heart failure
  • Iron
  • Iron deficiency
  • Norepinephrine
  • Sympathetic nervous system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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