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A new discovery on how iron deficiency affects the vasculature of the lung could hold the key to improving treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension.

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A new paper from the Lakhal-Littleton Group at Oxford’s Department of Physiology Anatomy & Genetics describes the way in which iron deficiency affects human vasculature - in particular the vasculature of the lung.

Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional disorder in the word. Its prevalence is particularly high in patients with cardiovascular diseases, in whom it is associated with poor outcome.

It has been known for some time that iron deficiency predisposes to pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). In this condition, the vasculature in the lungs is constricted and remodelled, and this puts pressure on the right side of the heart. For some time it was thought that PAH is caused by anaemia, a condition in which iron deficiency is the underlying mechanism. Consequently, the only consideration given to iron deficiency in the clinical setting has been in the context of correcting anaemia.

Read more (University of Oxford website)

Read more and watch an interview with Associate Professor Lakhal-Littleton (Department of Physiology, Anatomy & Genetics website)

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