What is deferoxamine (DFO)?

By William Aird

DFO is is a chelating agent with a strong affinity to trivalent iron and aluminum ions. It is used primarily to treat patients with iron overload. It is a siderophore (an iron-binding compound) produced by the bacterium Streptomyces pilosus. 1 molecule binds a single atom of iron, forming a feroxamine complex that is virtually inert metabolically.

DFO is derived from the chemical removal of the trivalent iron from ferrioxamine B, which is an iron-bearing metabolite produced by actinomycetes, Streptomyces pilosus.