Section 40
Chapter 39,392

Bioavailability of trivalent iron in oral iron preparations. Therapeutic efficacy and iron absorption from simple ferric compounds and high- or low-molecular weight ferric hydroxide-carbohydrate complexes

Heinrich, H.C.

Arzneimittel-Forschung 25(3): 420-426


ISSN/ISBN: 0004-4172
PMID: 1174047
Accession: 039391178

All available results from critical hemoglobin regeneration tests, postabsorption serum iron concentration studies, 59Fe erythrocyte incorporation and 59Fe whole-body retention measurements demonstrate that humans do absorb ferrous iron between 4 and 10 times (in the average about 5 times) better than ferric iron from therapeutic oral 50--250 mg iron doses. Ferrous sulfate iron is 3 to 4 times better available than the iron from ferric ammonium citrate or sulfate. Whereas 100 mg of ferrous sulfate iron/day are sufficient for an optimal oral compensation iron therapy and to produce initial hemoglobin regeneration rates of about 0.26 g/100 ml/day, 400 to 1000 mg of ferric iron/day are necessary for the same therapeutic effect because of the poor bioavailability of ferric iron. The ratio of the dose-absorption relationships for ferric and ferrous 59Fe was shown to decrease from 0.43 for a diagnostic 0.56 mg Fe dose to 0.21 for the therapeutic 50 mg Fe dose in subjects with normal iron stores. Absorption ratios of 0.65 for the 0.56 mg Fe dose and 0.26 for the 50 mg Fe dose were measured in subjects with depleted iron stores. At all dose levels the superior bioavailability of ferrous iron was demonstrable. A high-molecular weight ferric hydroxide-carbohydrate complex (MW similar to 30 000) was palatable but so poorly absorbed that is was practically without effect on hemoglobin regeneration even at a daily 300 mg Fe dose. Following several warnings such a useless commerecial oral iron preparation was finally withdrawn from the market. The iron from any high-molecular weight carbohydrate complex of ferric hydroxide has to be suspected to be poorly absorbed and therefore therapeutical useless, unless the opposite has been demonstrated with a reliable bioassay (59Fe absorption whole-body retention and hemoglobin regeneration test). A low-molecular weight so-called ferric hydroxide-fructose complex was shown to contain iron of more or less the same poor bioavailability as contained in ferric chloride since the iron from ferrous sulfate was about 5 times better absorable. The good absorption of ferrous sulfate iron was not further augmented by even very large oral doses of fructose since this carbohydrate did not improve the ferrous iron absorption at a fructose: Fe molar ratio of 106:1. Trivalent iron in simple compounds like ferric ammonium citrate or in low- and high-molecular weight carbohydrate complexes of ferric hydroxide is so poorly available for intestinal iron absorption in man that it cannot be used for a fast and reliable oral iron therapy with reasonably low doses as it can be easily practised with quick-lease preparations of ferrous sulfate at a 100 mg Fe2

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