The intestinal microbiota: a key player in the regulation of iron in the body

Published on 2019-05-10

The recent study conducted by teams from Inra, Inserm, and in collaboration with the CNRS, offers unprecedented insight into the crucial influence of the intestinal microbiota in the regulation of iron, an element essential to the maintenance of human health. Published in The Faseb Journal on September 15, 2015, this work reveals for the first time how bacteria present in the gut orchestrate subtle but fundamental changes in the distribution and storage of iron within intestinal cells.

Iron, as a vital element, requires precise regulation to ensure the body's well-being. The study shows that the microbiota, made up of intestinal bacteria, emerges as a novel pathophysiological regulator of intestinal iron absorption. In a complex ballet between intestinal cells and symbiotic bacteria, dietary iron, the sole gateway to the body, is subject to sophisticated regulatory mechanisms.

Researchers investigated the effect of microbiota on intestinal iron absorption, isolating this impact from hormonal influences. Through comparisons between axenic animals (devoid of intestinal microbiota) and animals with controlled microbiota, the study reveals that the absence of microbiota leads to significantly low levels of iron storage in intestinal cells, as well as a scarcity of transport systems to the body. In contrast, the presence of microbiota induces increased iron storage capacity within intestinal cells, in the form of ferritin, and promotes its transport to the body via ferroportin.

In short, the study establishes that the presence of microbiota bacteria leads to a significant adaptation of intestinal cells, both in their capacity to distribute and store iron. This breakthrough offers a new route to understanding and controlling iron metabolism, promising to improve the management of iron intakes and deepen our understanding of iron-related abnormalities in diseases characterized by imbalances in the microbiota, commonly known as "dysbiosis".

It's worth taking an interest in this study to better understand the mechanisms specific to horses.

Find out more in the following article.

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