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Iron and the Anemia of Chronic Inflammation: Learning Objectives

Medical Importance

Iron deficiency anemia and the anemia of chronic disease are the most common types of anemia encountered in clinical practice and in the world. When evaluating patients with these types of anemia, it is important to utilize your understanding of iron metabolism in order to determine the underlying cause(s) using a diagnostic approach tailored to the clinical setting.


  1. Describe the route by which iron from the diet becomes incorporated into hemoglobin (including the absorption, transport, delivery, storage and loss of iron in humans).
  2. Describe the hematological changes associated with the development of iron deficiency and the timeline by which they occur.
  3. Describe the symptoms, signs, and laboratory findings associated with iron deficiency anemia.
  4. List the causes of iron deficiency and the appropriate investigational studies to evaluate for them.
  5. Describe the role of hepcidin in the anemia of chronic inflammation and the resulting effects on serum iron, ferritin, and red cell size.
  6. List the advantages and disadvantages of diet, oral iron, and intravenous iron therapy.