Telfairia occidentalis is a vegetable food crop that is indigenous to West Africa. The leaves and seeds are the edible parts of the plant and are used in everyday meals by incorporation into soups and stews. Previous studies have attributed improved haematological indices to the vegetable and have advocated the use of T. occidentalis in the treatment of anemia. This study investigates the ameliorative effects of T. occidentalis when compared to FeSO4 as a reference salt in anaemic mice. It also compares the bioavailability of test iron and hepatic hepcidin expression for the estimation of iron absorption in the mice. Non-haem iron was determined in the liver of mice after the experimental feeding treatments. Hepcidin mRNA expression was carried out by quantitative RT-PCR. Administration of T. occidentalis leaves led to a modest increase in haemoglobin (Hb) levels in anaemic mice that were comparable to the Hb repletion in anaemic mice given FeSO4. Hepatic iron increase in the mice given either T. occidentalis or FeSO4 led to a corresponding enhancement of hepcidin mRNA expression. Induced hepcidin mRNA expression was enhanced by the addition of ascorbic acid to the test dose of iron. Hepatic hepcidin mRNA expression was found to be responsive to increase in the relative bioavailability of iron from test diets
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