Nanomedicine targets iron metabolism for cancer therapy

Liangru Lin, Hanqing Chen, Ruifang Zhao, Motao Zhu, Guangjun Nie

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Iron is an essential element for cell proliferation and homeostasis by engaging in cell metabolism including DNA synthesis, cell cycle, and redox cycling; however, iron overload could contribute to tumor initiation, proliferation, metastasis, and angiogenesis. Therefore, manipulating iron metabolisms, such as using iron chelators, transferrin receptor 1 (TFR1) Abs, and cytotoxic ligands conjugated to transferrin, has become a considerable strategy for cancer therapy. However, there remain major limitations for potential translation to the clinic based on the regulation of iron metabolism in cancer treatment. Nanotechnology has made great advances for cancer treatment by improving the therapeutic potential and lowering the side-effects of the proved drugs and those under various stages of development. Early studies that combined nanotechnology with therapeutic means for the regulation of iron metabolism have shown certain promise for developing specific treatment options based on the intervention of cancer iron acquisition, transportation, and utilization. In this review, we summarize the current understanding of iron metabolism involved in cancer and review the recent advances in iron-regulatory nanotherapeutics for improved cancer therapy. We also envision the future development of nanotherapeutics for improved treatment for certain types of cancers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)828-837
Number of pages10
JournalCancer Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • cancer therapy
  • ferroptosis
  • iron metabolism
  • iron reductive therapy
  • nanodrug delivery system
  • Antineoplastic Agents/administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms/drug therapy
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Ferroptosis/drug effects
  • Drug Delivery Systems
  • Animals
  • Iron Overload/drug therapy
  • Iron/metabolism
  • Nanomedicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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