The effect of transferrin saturation on internal iron exchange

G. Bergamaschi, M. J. Eng, H. A. Huebers, C. A. Finch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Radioiron was introduced into the intestinal lumen to evaluate absorption, injected as nonviable red cells to evaluate reticuloendothelial (RE) processing of iron, and injected as hemoglobin to evaluate hepatocyte iron processing. Redistribution of iron through the plasma was evaluated in control animals and animals whose transferrin was saturated by iron infusion. Radioiron introduced into the lumen of the gut as ferrous sulfate and as transferrin-bound iron was absorbed about half as well in iron-infused animals, and absorbed iron was localized in the liver. The similar absorption of transferrin-bound iron suggested that absorption of ferrous iron occurred via the mucosal cell and did not enter by diffusion. The decrease in absorption was associated with an increase in mucosal iron and ferritin content produced by the iron infusion. An inverse relationship (r = -0.895) was shown between mucosal ferritin iron and absorption. When iron was injected as nonviable red cells, it was deposited predominantly in reticuloendothelial cells of the spleen. Return of this radioiron to the plasma was only 6% of that in control animals. While there was some movement of iron from spleen to liver, this could be accounted for by intravascular hemolysis. Injected hemoglobin tagged with radioiron was for the most part taken up and held by the liver. Some 13% initially localized in the marrow in iron-infused animals was shown to be storage iron unavailable for hemoglobin synthesis. These studies demonstrate the hepatic trapping of absorbed iron and the inability of either RE cell or hepatocyte to release iron in the transferrin-saturated animal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-72
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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