Estimation of iron absorption in humans using compartmental modelling

B Sarria, J R Dainty, T E Fox, S J Fairweather-Tait

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17 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To evaluate whether a compartmental model could estimate iron absorption as accurately as the well-validated technique of plasma area under the curve using labelled test meals.

Design: The study is a randomised cross-sectional intervention.

Setting: The study was carried out at the Human Nutrition Unit at the Institute of Food Research, Norwich, UK.

Subjects: A total of nine female volunteers, aged 33±8 y.

Interventions: Volunteers were given an oral dose (approximately 5 mg) of Fe-57 as iron sulphate in an orange juice test drink and simultaneously infused Fe-58 (approximately 200 μg) as iron citrate over 90 min. Multiple blood samples were taken for the following 6 h. The samples were analysed by mass spectrometry and iron absorption was estimated using a mathematical model based on the appearance of Fe isotopes in plasma and the area under the curve technique.

Results: The geometric mean (−1 s.d., +1 s.d.) absorption of the model estimate is 16% (9, 31) and the area under curve estimate is 18% (8, 29).

Conclusions: Results indicate that a compartmental model can be used to estimate labelled iron absorption although it is unlikely that this new method will be used in favour of an existing one. Further studies are now needed with unlabelled iron to assess whether the technique could have application in the assessment of total (haem+nonhaem) iron absorption from food.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)142-144
Number of pages3
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2005

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