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Kidney Int. 1991 Apr;39(4):799-803.

Role of iron metabolism in absorption and cellular uptake of aluminum.

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Bone and Mineral Research Unit, Hospital General de Asturias, Oviedo, Spain.


The effect of iron status on aluminum (Al) absorption was investigated in this study in vivo using an animal model and in vitro using an intestinal mucosal cell line. In the in vivo model rats were rendered iron overloaded by intraperitoneal injection of iron dextran (5 mg/48 hr) or iron deficient by phlebotomy (2.5 to 3 ml blood/week). These rats, and normal controls, were then dosed with Al(OH)3 (40 mg/day) for 30 days. Urinary excretion of Al was significantly greater in the iron deficient group than in the other two groups throughout the study period, and brain Al at the end of the experiment was significantly increased in the iron depleted group (1.93 micrograms/g) and decreased in the iron overloaded group (0.73 microgram/g) compared with controls (1.42 micrograms/g). The brain Al levels in iron overloaded rats were no higher than those in normal rats that had not been dosed with Al(OH)3 (0.61 microgram/g). No significant differences were found in serum Al levels. In the in vitro experiments cultures of the rat intestinal cell line RIE1 were iron overloaded by addition of iron nitrilotriacetate (0.1 mM) or iron depleted with desferrioxamine (5 micrograms/ml) for 20 days prior to pulsing with Al transferrin (0.5 mg/ml) for 24 hours. Uptake of Al was significantly greater in the iron depleted cells (2.3 ng/micrograms cell DNA) than in iron overloaded (0.81 ng) or untreated (0.83 microgram) cells. These studies show that iron depletion markedly increases absorption and cellular uptake and suggest that susceptible individuals, such as renal failure patients, run an increased risk of toxicity if they are iron deficient.

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