Iron and zinc deficiencies likely coexist in general population. We have previously demonstrated that zinc treatment induces while zinc deficiency inhibits iron absorption in intestinal cell culture models, but this needs to be tested in vivo. In the present study we assessed intestinal iron absorption, iron status (haemoglobin), red blood cell number, plasma ferritin, transferrin receptor, hepcidin) and tissue iron levels in zinc depleted, replete and pair fed control rats. Zinc depletion led to reduction in body weight, tissue zinc levels, intestinal iron absorption, protein and mRNA expression of iron transporters, the divalent metal ion transporter-1, hephaestin and ferroportin, but elevated the intestinal and liver tissue iron levels compared with the pair fed control rats. Zinc repletion led to a significant weight gain compared to zinc deficient rats and normalized the iron absorption, iron transporter expression, tissue iron levels to that of pair fed control rats. Surprisingly, haemoglobin levels and red blood cell number reduced significantly in zinc repleted rats, which could be due to rapid weight gain. Together, these results indicate that whole body zinc status has profound influence on growth, intestinal absorption and systemic utilization of iron, mediated via modulation of iron transporter expression.
- Intestinal iron absorption
- Iron transporters