Anemia is a major health issue and associated with increased morbidity. Iron deficiency anemia (IDA) is the most prevalent, followed by anemia of chronic disease (ACD). IDA and ACD often coexist, challenging diagnosis and treatment. While iron supplementation is the first-line therapy for IDA, its optimal route of administration and the efficacy of different repletion strategies in ACD are elusive. Female Lewis rats were injected with group A streptococcal peptidoglycan-polysaccharide (PG-APS) to induce inflammatory arthritis with associated ACD and/or repeatedly phlebotomized and fed with low iron diet to induce IDA, or a combination thereof (ACD/IDA). Iron was either supplemented by daily oral gavage of Ferric Maltol or by weekly intravenous (i.v.) injection of Ferric Carboxymaltose for up to four weeks. While both strategies reversed IDA, they remained ineffective to improve hemoglobin (Hb) levels in ACD, although oral iron showed slight amelioration of various erythropoiesis-associated parameters. In contrast, both iron treatments significantly increased Hb in ACD/IDA. In ACD and ACD/IDA animals, i.v. iron administration resulted in iron trapping in liver and splenic macrophages, induction of ferritin expression and increased circulating levels of the iron hormone hepcidin and the inflammatory cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6), while oral iron supplementation reduced IL-6 levels. Thus, oral and i.v. iron resulted in divergent effects on systemic and tissue iron homeostasis and inflammation. Our results indicate that both iron supplements improve Hb in ACD/IDA, but are ineffective in ACD with pronounced inflammation, and that under the latter condition, i.v. iron is trapped in macrophages and may enhance inflammation.
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