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Nanomedicine. 2014 Oct;10(7):1529-38. doi: 10.1016/j.nano.2013.12.011. Epub 2014 Jan 4.

A nano-disperse ferritin-core mimetic that efficiently corrects anemia without luminal iron redox activity.

Author information

  • 1MRC Human Nutrition Research, Elsie Widdowson Laboratory, Cambridge, UK. Electronic address:
  • 2MRC Human Nutrition Research, Elsie Widdowson Laboratory, Cambridge, UK.
  • 3Institute for Materials Research, School of Process, Environmental and Materials Engineering, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK.
  • 4SuperSTEM, Daresbury Laboratories, Warrington, UK; Department of Materials, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.
  • 5Diabetes & Nutritional Sciences Division, School of Medicine, King's College London, London, UK.


The 2-5 nm Fe(III) oxo-hydroxide core of ferritin is less ordered and readily bioavailable compared to its pure synthetic analogue, ferrihydrite. We report the facile synthesis of tartrate-modified, nano-disperse ferrihydrite of small primary particle size, but with enlarged or strained lattice structure (~2.7Å for the main Bragg peak versus 2.6Å for synthetic ferrihydrite). Analysis indicated that co-precipitation conditions can be achieved for tartrate inclusion into the developing ferrihydrite particles, retarding both growth and crystallization and favoring stabilization of the cross-linked polymeric structure. In murine models, gastrointestinal uptake was independent of luminal Fe(III) reduction to Fe(II) and, yet, absorption was equivalent to that of ferrous sulphate, efficiently correcting the induced anemia. This process may model dietary Fe(III) absorption and potentially provide a side effect-free form of cheap supplemental iron. From the clinical editor: Small size tartrate-modified, nano-disperse ferrihydrite was used for efficient gastrointestinal delivery of soluble Fe(III) without the risk for free radical generation in murine models. This method may provide a potentially side effect-free form iron supplementation.

Crown Copyright © 2014. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Bioavailability; Ferrihydrite; Iron deficiency anemia; Iron oxide; Oral iron

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