Screening Strategy for Iron Enhancers: Increasing Iron Bioavailability
Bernd van Buuren,
Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional disorder in the world. It is estimated that 2 billion people are anaemic. Approximately 50% of infants, school-age children and women of reproductive age suffer from iron deficiency anaemia in some countries of South Asia, compared to about 25% in Latin America and 10% in the industrialised countries of Europe. Iron deficiency is a result of the imbalance between the amount of iron absorbed and iron excreted. Such an imbalance may be the result of low iron intake due to low iron content of the diet or to low bioavailability of the dietary iron to compensate for the losses. Certain compounds such as ascorbic acid are well known for increasing iron bioavailability. However, not many other compounds have been found with a similar effect. In this review, we evaluate the methods employed in the search for compounds that could enhance iron bioavailability from iron fortified foods. All the methods are designed to screen for natural compounds that can form complexes with iron to guarantee product stability and acceptable taste, but still able to increase the concentration of soluble iron in the proximity of the intestinal brush border membrane, allowing for efficient iron uptake into the intestinal cells. When used as a prelude of human trials, this screening strategy might enable improved design and productivity of the more expensive human experiment. Applications of this model include product development, but also screening of plant cultivars for improved bioavailability, development of improved supplements and studies of the precise factors that promote iron uptake.
Keywords: Caco-2, chelator, in silico, in vitro, screening, dialysability
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