Metal-dependent hormone function: the emerging interdisciplinary field of metalloendocrinology
For over 100 years, there has been an incredible amount of knowledge amassed concerning hormones in the endocrine system and their central role in human health. Hormones represent a diverse group of biomolecules that are released by glands, communicate signals to their target tissue, and are regulated by feedback loops to maintain organism health. Many disease states, such as diabetes and reproductive disorders, stem from misregulation or dysfunction of hormones. Increasing research is illuminating the intricate roles of metal ions in the endocrine system where they may act advantageously in concert with hormones or deleteriously catalyze hormone-associated disease states. As the critical role of metal ions in the endocrine system becomes more apparent, it is increasingly important to untangle the complex mechanisms underlying the connections between inorganic biochemistry and hormone function to understand and control endocrinological phenomena. This tutorial review harmonizes the interdisciplinary fields of endocrinology and inorganic chemistry in the newly-termed field of “metalloendocrinology”. We describe examples linking metals to both normal and aberrant hormone function with a focus on highlighting insight to molecular mechanisms. Hormone activities related to both essential metal micronutrients, such as copper, iron, zinc, and calcium, and disruptive nonessential metals, such as lead and cadmium are discussed.