The pyrones, 3-hydroxy-2-methyl-4-pyrone (maltol) and 3-hydroxy-2-ethyl-4-pyrone (ethyl maltol) chelate iron with a high affinity and selectivity. The resulting 1:3 (metal-ligand) complexes, being neutral, are able to partition readily across cell membranes and thus may facilitate iron transport across the intestinal wall. Absorption of radioactive iron (59Fe) in the presence of these pyrones was investigated in male rats 1, 2, 4 and 6 h after intraduodenal administration of a 7 micrograms dose and compared with that of 59Fe given as the sulphate, gluconate, fumarate or complexed to EDTA. Total body absorption and distribution were calculated from the 59Fe content of various tissue samples. With all the iron preparations used, blood levels of 59Fe were highest 1 h after injection whilst the 59Fe content at the major site of deposition, i.e. the bone marrow, increased up to 6 h. No 59Fe was found in the urine. Total body absorption of 59Fe was significantly higher from the pyrones than from the other four preparations. Over the dose range 0.7-700 micrograms, the proportion of 59Fe absorbed from both iron maltol and iron sulphate decreased with increasing dose. Enhanced 59Fe uptake from maltol was evident at 0.7-70 micrograms but not at 700 micrograms suggesting that use of these pyrones will not result in iron overload. Absorption of 59Fe given into the stomach was slower in onset but was sustained longer presumably via a steady delivery of iron to the duodenum from the gastric reservoir.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
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