Determinants of copper-deficiency anemia in rats

N. L. Cohen, Carl L Keen, L. S. Hurley, B. Lonnerdal

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46 Scopus citations


Indicators of copper and iron metabolism were studied in pregnant rats and their 90-d-old offspring fed copper-sufficient or copper-deficient diets containing marginal or adequate levels of iron from the beginning of pregnancy until the offspring were 90 d of age. Offspring had more severe signs of copper deficiency (including anemia, hypertrophy of the heart, decreased activity of ferroxidase I and II, depression of growth and death) than the dams. In both dams and offspring, copper deficiency resulted in anemia when dietary iron was marginal but not when it was adequate. Liver iron was elevated in copper-deficient male offspring, but not in female offspring. Anemia and growth retardation were more pronounced in copper-deficient males than in females, despite similarly low levels of ferroxidase I and II. Iron absorption was reduced by copper deficiency only in female offspring. Activity of 59Fe in various tissues 6 or 48 h after gavage did not reveal any other effect of copper deficiency on iron metabolism. Thus age at the time of copper-deficient diets were introduced, sex and dietary iron strongly influence the effect of copper deficiency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)710-725
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1985

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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