Research Article| Volume 70, ISSUE 1, P138-149, July 1967

Intestinal iron absorption by neonates and some factors affecting it

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      Iron absorption by suckling rats was investigated since it is known that their stores become relatively deficient in iron while receiving rat milk which is rich in iron. A wholebody counting technique was used with 59Fe-labeled ferrous salts (Fe++), hemoglobin (Fe-Hgb.), and rat milk. Practically all of a 50 μg dose of Fe++ was absorbed during the first 2 weeks of life. Thereafter, absorption gradually declined to about 25 per cent at 30 days of age. 59Fe-labeled rat milk was absorbed in a similar manner, while Fe-Hgb was absorbed less efficiently at all stages. Neonatal rats resembled adults in that factors related to the intestinal lumen, such as size of administered dose and prior administration of a large blocking dose of iron, reduced Fe++ absorption. They differed from adult rats in that factors which involve intermediary iron metabolism, such as the level of circulating red blood cells or the level of iron stores, did not affect Fe++ absorption. These findings may be related to the observation that during the first 18 days of life the intestinal mucosa of the rat is able to absorb large molecules, such as protein antibody, by pinocytosis. Cortisone acetate administered subcutaneously to rats 8 to 10 days old has been shown to mature the intestinal absorptive cells within 72 hours so that pinocytosis no longer takes place. In the present study, it is of interest that treatment with cortisone significantly diminished Fe++ absorption.
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