Affiliation: Institute for Advanced Studies in Aging, 6400 Arlington Blvd. Suite 940, Falls Church, VA 22042, USA.
Anemia is a common cause of morbidity in the general population as it contributes to diminished quality of life and reduced physical and cognitive function. Inflammation is a major factor in the pathogenesis of anemia and thus, anemia is commonly observed in patients with acute and chronic infection, and other inflammatory conditions including cancer, arthritis, atherosclerosis, and diabetes. The mechanisms whereby inflammation may result in anemia are complex and incompletely understood although the recent discovery of the importance of a hepcidin production by the liver in response to inflammatory (among other) signals has improved our understanding as this cytokine is an important regulator of iron trafficking and utilization. Thus, although the anemia of inflammation remains difficult to reverse, optimism is high that we will soon have therapies directed at the mediators of anemia and these hold the promise of affording a major therapeutic advance.