Iron deficiency and marginal vitamin A deficiency affect growth, hematological indices and the regulation of iron metabolism genes in rats

Yi Ning J. Strube, John L. Beard, A. Catharine Ross

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Iron deficiency and marginal vitamin A (VA) deficiency frequently coexist and affect billions of people, mostly children and women, worldwide. The effects of these micronutrient deficiencies alone and in combination on hematologic, biochemical and molecular indices of iron and VA status were investigated in a 2 × 2 randomized blocked study conducted in growing male Sprague-Dawley rats. From 3-8 wk of age, rats were fed one of four purified diets that were either adequate or restricted in iron (Fe) and adequate or marginal in VA: +Fe +VA, 20.3 and 0.367 μg/g, respectively, denoted control diet; -Fe +VA, 3.34 and 0.405 μ/g; +FeVAm, 22.2 and 0.051 μg/g; or -FeVAm, 3.03 and 0.055 μg/g. Weight-matched rats fed adequate micronutrients were included to control for possible confounding effects of Fe deficiency on growth and feed efficiency. Iron restriction reduced (P < 0.05) weight gain, feed efficiency, blood hemoglobin and hematocrit. Plasma and liver iron and plasma transferrin saturation were reduced by ∼50%, whereas liver transferrin mRNA and protein and transferrin receptor mRNA were elevated, as was liver ferritin light-chain protein and light-chain mRNA. Liver heavy-chain ferritin mRNA, hemopexin, ceruloplasmin and cellular retinol-binding protein mRNA were not affected by iron or VA restriction. Although marginal VA deficiency did not exacerbate indices of poor iron status during iron deficiency, iron deficiency was associated with lower plasma retinol and elevated liver VA concentrations. These results are consistent with an impaired mobilization of liver retinol during iron deficiency as well as multiple alterations in iron metabolism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3607-3615
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2002


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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