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Nutr Res. 2010 Feb;30(2):85-95. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2010.01.004.

Influence of garlic or its main active component diallyl disulfide on iron bioavailability and toxicity.

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Unité de recherche 01/UR/08-07, Laboratoire d'histologie-embryologie et biologie cellulaire, Faculté de Médecine de Tunis, Tunis, Tunisie.


Garlic is regularly consumed and is known to have diverse biologic activities, particularly due to its antioxidant properties. In this study, we hypothesized that crude garlic can prevent iron-mediated oxidative stress in a rat model of nutritional iron overload, and we used an in vitro model to confirm the results. For the in vivo studies, rats received a basal diet supplemented with or without carbonyl iron (3%) and were fed distilled water or garlic solution (1g/kg body weight) by gavage for 3 weeks. The presence of both garlic and iron led to a 2-fold increase in plasma iron and a 50% increase in liver iron as compared with iron alone. However, garlic did not offer any protection against iron-induced oxidative stress. Duodenal divalent metal transporter-1 mRNA expression was fully repressed by iron and by the combined treatments but was also reduced by garlic alone. To confirm these data, we tested the effect of diallyl disulfide, one of the active components in garlic, in vitro on polarized Caco-2 cells. A 24-hour treatment decreased iron uptake at the apical side of Caco-2 cells but increased the percentage of iron transfer at the basolateral side. This probably resulted from a modest induction of ferroportin mRNA and protein expression. These results suggest that garlic, when given in the presence of iron, enhances iron absorption by increasing ferroportin expression. The presence of garlic in the diet at the dose studied does not seem to protect against iron-mediated oxidative stress.

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