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J Nutr. 2012 Feb;142(2):271-7. doi: 10.3945/jn.111.148643. Epub 2011 Dec 21.

Iron depletion and repletion with ferrous sulfate or electrolytic iron modifies the composition and metabolic activity of the gut microbiota in rats.

Author information

1
Institute of Food, Nutrition and Health, Zurich, Switzerland.

Abstract

Iron (Fe) deficiency anemia is a global health concern and Fe fortification and supplementation are common corrective strategies. Fe is essential not only for the human host but also for nearly all gut bacteria. We studied the impact of Fe deficiency and Fe repletion on the gut microbiota in rats. Weanling rats were fed an Fe-deficient diet for 24 d and then repleted for 13 d with FeSO₄ (n = 15) or electrolytic Fe (n = 14) at 10 and 20 mg Fe · kg diet⁻¹. In addition, one group of rats (n = 8) received the Fe-deficient diet and one group (n = 3) received a Fe-sufficient control diet for all 37 d. Fecal samples were collected at baseline and after the depletion and repletion periods, and colonic tissues were examined histologically. Microbial metabolite composition in cecal water was measured and fecal samples were analyzed for microbial composition with temporal temperature gradient gel electrophoresis and qPCR. Compared to Fe-sufficient rats, Fe-deficient rats had significantly lower concentrations of cecal butyrate (-87%) and propionate (-72%) and the abundance of dominant species was strongly modified, including greater numbers of lactobacilli and Enterobacteriaceae and a large significant decrease of the Roseburia spp./E. rectale group, a major butyrate producer. Repletion with 20 mg FeSO₄ · kg diet⁻¹ significantly increased cecal butyrate concentrations and partially restored bacterial populations compared to Fe-deficient rats at endpoint. The effects on the gut microbiota were stronger in rats repleted with FeSO₄ than in rats repleted with electrolytic Fe, suggesting ferrous Fe may be more available for utilization by the gut microbiota than elemental Fe. Repletion with FeSO₄ significantly increased neutrophilic infiltration of the colonic mucosa compared to Fe-deficient rats. In conclusion, Fe depletion and repletion strongly affect the composition and metabolic activity of rat gut microbiota.

PMID:
22190022
PMCID:
PMC3260059
DOI:
10.3945/jn.111.148643
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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