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PLoS One. 2013 May 30;8(5):e64022. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0064022. Print 2013.

Iron supplementation in suckling piglets: how to correct iron deficiency anemia without affecting plasma hepcidin levels.

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Institute of Genetics and Animal Breeding, Jastrzębiec, Poland.


The aim of the study was to establish an optimized protocol of iron dextran administration to pig neonates, which better meets the iron demand for erythropoiesis. Here, we monitored development of red blood cell indices, plasma iron parameters during a 28-day period after birth (till the weaning), following intramuscular administration of different concentrations of iron dextran to suckling piglets. To better assess the iron status we developed a novel mass spectrometry assay to quantify pig plasma levels of the iron-regulatory peptide hormone hepcidin-25. This hormone is predominantly secreted by the liver and acts as a negative regulator of iron absorption and reutilization. The routinely used protocol with high amount of iron resulted in the recovery of piglets from iron deficiency but also in strongly elevated plasma hepcidin-25 levels. A similar protocol with reduced amounts of iron improved hematological status of piglets to the same level while plasma hepcidin-25 levels remained low. These data show that plasma hepcidin-25 levels can guide optimal dosing of iron treatment and pave the way for mixed supplementation of piglets starting with intramuscular injection of iron dextran followed by dietary supplementation, which could be efficient under condition of very low plasma hepcidin-25 level.

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