Intravenous iron supplementation effect on tissue iron and hemoproteins in chronically phlebotomized lambs

Sixto F. Guiang, Michael K. Georgieff, David J. Lambert, Robert L. Schmidt, John A. Widness

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41 Scopus citations


Chronic phlebotomy is an important mechanism of iron loss in premature infants. We studied inter- and intraorgan iron allocation in 10 twin lamb pairs undergoing an acute 40-50% reduction in red cell volume followed by smaller intermittent phlebotomies over an 11-day period. One twin received no supplemental iron sucrose, while the other received an average daily intravenous dose of iron sucrose of either 1 (n = 3), 2 (n = 3), 5 (n = 3), or 15 (n = 1) mg·kg-1·day-1. The total iron content of the red blood cells, liver, skeletal muscle, heart, and brain was directly related to iron dose up to 2 mg·kg-1·day-1. Tissue iron concentrations remained stable until liver iron was <200 g/g dry wt, after which iron was preferentially directed to red blood cells over skeletal muscle, heart, and brain. Hemoprotein concentrations decreased proportionately to tissue iron, except myocardial cytochrome c, which remained preserved. Any available iron in phlebotomized, rapidly growing lambs is preferentially directed to red blood cells, and lambs require iron supplementation to maintain tissue iron and hemoprotein concentrations. A decrease in nonheme tissue iron results in the high prioritization of iron among iron-containing proteins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R2124-R2131
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number6 42-6
StatePublished - 1997


  • Brain
  • Cytochrome c
  • Heart
  • Iron deficiency
  • Myoglobin
  • Red blood cells
  • Sheep


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