Tissue macrophages play an essential role in iron recycling through the phagocytosis of senescent RBCs (red blood cells). Following haem catabolism by HO1 (haem oxygenase 1), they recycle iron back into the plasma through the iron exporter Fpn (ferroportin). We previously described a cellular model of EP (erythrophagocytosis), based on primary cultures of mouse BMDMs (bone-marrow-derived macrophages) and aged murine RBCs, and showed that EP induces changes in the expression profiles of Fpn and HO1. In the present paper, we demonstrate that haem derived from human or murine RBCs or from an exogenous source of haem led to marked transcriptional activation of the Fpn and HO1 genes. Iron released from haem catabolism subsequently stimulated the Fpn mRNA and protein expression associated with localization of the transporter at the cell surface, which probably promotes the export of iron into the plasma. These findings highlight a dual mechanism of Fpn regulation in BMDMs, characterized by early induction of the gene transcription predominantly mediated by haem, followed by iron-mediated post-transcriptional regulation of the exporter.

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