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Open Access

Iron-deficiency anemia increases intestinal bacterial translocation in rats

  • MB Morais1,
  • JL Menchaca-Diaz1,
  • AMA Liberatore1,
  • OMS Amâncio1,
  • RM Silva1,
  • U Fagundes-Neto1 and
  • IHJ Koh1
Critical Care20059(Suppl 2):P62

Published: 9 June 2005


Small BowelCausal EventSystemic InfectionMesenteric Lymph NodeBacterial Translocation


Bacterial translocation has been related as the main causal event in the genesis of the systemic infection. Particularly in pediatric patients, worse prognosis of systemic infection has been related to malnourishment, impaired immune response and other debilitating diseases. In this study we therefore decided to examine the effect of iron-deficiency anemia in bacterial translocation (BT).


Male Wistar rats, 21 days of age, were distributed into the control group (diet containing 50 mg/kg elemental iron, n = 12) and the anemic group (diet containing less than 5 mg/kg elemental iron, n = 12). The animals were housed in metabolic cages and received deionized water and diet ad libitum for 6 weeks, and were submitted to BT experiments. Rats were fasted for 24 hours prior to midline laparotomy under general anesthesia. Initially, the distal ileum was ligated and 10 ml saline containing Escherichia coli R-6 (1010 CFU/ml) was inoculated by oro-duodenal catheterization, and confined in the entire small bowel by duodenal ligature. Afterwards, the abdomen wall was closed by suture. After 2 hours of the BT process, the mesenteric lymph nodes, liver, spleen, lung and blood were collected for culture under anesthesia and were sacrificed soon after.


At the experimental day, the weight of the anemic group (187 ± 20 g) did not show a statistical difference (P = 0.863) in relation to the control group (193 ± 19 g). However, the hemoglobin (5.6 ± 1.1 g/dl) and hepatic iron (89 ± 15 μg/g) were statistically lower (P < 0.001) than the control group (14.8 ± 0.8 g/dl and 374 ± 60 μg/g, respectively). The median number of E. coli R-6 recovered in mesenteric lymph nodes in the anemic group (26.5 × 107CFU/g) was higher than that of the control group (33.0 × 104; P = 0.049). The number of bacteria recovered in the liver, spleen, lung and blood were not statistically different between two groups, although there was a higher recovery in anemic group.


Iron-deficiency anemia increases intestinal bacterial translocation in rats.

Authors’ Affiliations

Paulista Medical School, Federal University of São Paulo, Brazil


© BioMed Central Ltd 2005