Hinokitiol, molecule from Japanese cypress tree shows promise in iron related disorders

Researchers find key molecule that could lead to new therapies for anemia and other iron disorders. New findings reported in journal Science by a multi-institutional team, including researchers from University of Illinois, Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Northeastern University, could impact whole range of diseases related to iron metabolism.

The team has discovered a small molecule hinokitiol, found naturally in Japanese cypress tree leaves  has shown to promote gut iron absorption in rats and mice, as well as hemoglobin production in zebrafish. Researchers observed that hinokitiol molecules can bind to iron atoms and move them across cell membranes and into/out of mitochondria, despite an absence of the native proteins that would usually carry out these functions.

Burke’s team initially found that hinokitiol could transport iron across cell membranes in vitro before reaching out to Paw and other collaborators to test its efficacy in animal models. Paw, co-senior author on the new Science paper and physician at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s, and members of his lab demonstrated that hinokitiol can successfully reverse iron deficiency and iron overload in zebrafish disease models.

Based on the findings in animal studies hinokitiol does seem to have big therapeutic potential in treating disorders related to iron metabolism. However further research is needed to elucidate its utility in humans.

Citation: Grillo, Anthony S., Anna M. Santamaria, Martin D. Kafina, Alexander G. Cioffi, Nicholas C. Huston, Murui Han, Young Ah Seo, Yvette Y. Yien, Christopher Nardone, Archita V. Menon, James Fan, Dillon C. Svoboda, Jacob B. Anderson, John D. Hong, Bruno G. Nicolau, Kiran Subedi, Andrew A. Gewirth, Marianne Wessling-Resnick, Jonghan Kim, Barry H. Paw, and Martin D. Burke. “Restored iron transport by a small molecule promotes absorption and hemoglobinization in animals.” Science 356, no. 6338 (2017): 608-16.
Adapted from press release by Boston Children’s Hospital.

Association between hearing loss and iron deficiency anemia

In a study published by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, Kathleen M. Schieffer, B.S., of the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, and colleagues examined the association between sensorineural hearing loss and conductive hearing loss and iron deficiency anemia in adults ages 21 to 90 years in the United States.

Hearing by Maklay62@pixelbay

In 2014, approximately 15 percent of adults reported difficulty with hearing. Because iron deficiency anemia (IDA) is a common and easily correctable condition, further understanding of the association between iron deficiency anemia (IDA) and all types of hearing loss may help to open new possibilities for early identification and appropriate treatment.

For this study, using data obtained from deidentified electronic medical records from the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pa., iron deficiency anemia was determined by low hemoglobin and ferritin levels for age and sex in 305,339 adults ages 21 to 90 years; associations between hearing loss and iron deficiency anemia (IDA) were evaluated.

Of the patients in the study population, 43 percent were men; average age was 50 years. There was a 1.6 percent prevalence of combined hearing loss (defined as any combination of conductive hearing loss [hearing loss due to problems with the bones of the middle ear], sensorineural hearing loss, deafness, and unspecified hearing loss) and 0.7 percent prevalence of iron deficiency anemia (IDA). Both sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL; when there is damage to the cochlea or to the nerve pathways from the inner ear to the brain) (present in 1.1 percent of individuals with IDA) and combined hearing loss (present in 3.4 percent) were significantly associated with iron deficiency anemia (IDA). The analysis confirmed increased odds of sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) and combined hearing loss among adults with iron deficiency anemia (IDA).

“An association exists between iron deficiency anemia (IDA) in adults and hearing loss. The next steps are to better understand this correlation and whether promptly diagnosing and treating iron deficiency anemia (IDA) may positively affect the overall health status of adults with hearing loss,” the authors write.

Citation: Schieffer, Kathleen M., Cynthia H. Chuang, James Connor, James A. Pawelczyk and Deepa L. Sekhar. “Association of Iron Deficiency Anemia With Hearing Loss in US Adults.” JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery 2016 vol: 295 (4) pp: 416-428.
DOI: 10.1001/jamaoto.2016.3631
Adapted from press release by JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery.