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Effects of iron supplementation on growth, gut microbiota, metabolomics and cognitive development of rat pups

  • Author(s): Alexeev, EE
  • He, X
  • Slupsky, CM
  • Lonnerdal, B
  • et al.
Abstract

© 2017 Alexeev et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Background Iron deficiency is common during infancy and therefore iron supplementation is recommended. Recent reports suggest that iron supplementation in already iron replete infants may adversely affect growth, cognitive development, and morbidity. Methods Normal and growth restricted rat pups were given iron daily (30 or 150 μg/d) from birth to postnatal day (PD) 20, and followed to PD56. At PD20, hematology, tissue iron, and the hepatic metabolome were measured. The plasma metabolome and colonic microbial ecology were assessed at PD20 and PD56. T-maze (PD35) and passive avoidance (PD40) tests were used to evaluate cognitive development. Results Iron supplementation increased iron status in a dose-dependent manner in both groups, but no significant effect of iron on growth was observed. Passive avoidance was significantly lower only in normal rats given high iron compared with controls. In plasma and liver of normal and growth-restricted rats, excess iron increased 3-hydroxybutyrate and decreased several amino acids, urea and myo-inositol. While a profound difference in gut microbiota of normal and growth-restricted rats was observed, with iron supplementation differences in the abundance of strict anaerobes were observed. Conclusion Excess iron adversely affects cognitive development, which may be a consequence of altered metabolism and/or shifts in gut microbiota.

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