Distribution of brain iron, ferritin, and transferrin in the 28-day-old piglet

Keith M. Erikson, John L. Beard, James R. Connor

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5 Scopus citations


This study sought to gain understanding of the effect of iron deficiency anemia on regional brain iron, ferritin, and transferrin concentrations in the growing piglet. We wanted to use an animal whose development is more similar to human development than rodent models. Fourteen 1-month-old piglets were used for this study. One group (n = 7) received supplemental iron (100 mg iron dextran injected intramuscularly) at postnatal day 2; the second group (n = 7) received no iron injection and became iron deficient anemic. Anemia was verified in the iron deficient group [hemoglobin of 41 g/L, compared with 112 g/L in controls and hematocrit (15%, compared with 34% in controls)] when piglets were 28 days old. Brain iron concentrations were significantly lower due to iron deficiency (P = 0.02). The H-chain to L- chain (H:L chain) ferritin ratio was decreased in response to iron deficiency with the exception of substantia nigra and deep cerebellar nuclei, which were significantly higher than controls (P < 0.05). Compared with adult levels, brain iron concentrations were much lower and transferrin much higher in the piglets, suggesting a very active iron uptake system even in control piglets. A much lower H:L chain ferritin ratio (P < 0.05) in adult brain regions indicates a shift in the ferritin isoform expression in brain either as a function of increasing iron concentration or development. These data indicate that the brain of the 28-day-old piglet is actively acquiring iron regardless of the administration of exogenous iron.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)276-284
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Nutritional Biochemistry
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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