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The effect of copper excess on iron metabolism in sheep.

By E C Theil and K T Calvert


Sheep were treated with large amounts of copper (20 mg of CuSO4,5H2O/kg body wt. per day) for 9 weeks to examine the effect of copper excess on iron metabolism. In addition to confirming that massive haemolysis and accumulation of copper occurs in the liver, kidney and plasma after 7 weeks of exposure to excess copper, it was observed that excess copper produced an increased plasma iron concentration and transferrin saturation within 1 week. Further, iron preferentially accumulated in the spleen between 4 and 6 weeks of copper treatment, producing 3-fold increases in the iron content of both the ferritin and non-ferritin fractions. A 3-4 fold increase was also observed in the amount of ferritin that could be isolated from the spleen. The copper treatment had little or no effect on the concentration of iron in the liver and bone marrow. The following properties of erythrocytes were also unaffected by copper treatment: size, haemoglobin content and pyruvate kinase activity, although the erythrocyte concentration of copper increased after 6 weeks. Copper accumulated in the spleen between 6 and 9 weeks, probably owing to the phagocytosis of erythrocytes containing high concentrations of copper. The data suggest that copper excess influences iron metabolism, initially by causing a compensated haemolytic anaemia, and later by interfering with re-utilization of iron from ferritin in the reticuloendothelial cells of the spleen

Topics: Research Article
Year: 1978
DOI identifier: 10.1042/bj1700137
OAI identifier:
Provided by: PubMed Central
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