High specific activity heme-Fe and its application for studying heme-Fe metabolism in Caco-2 cell monolayers

Jennifer R. Follett, Yasushi A. Suzuki, Bo Lonnerdal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Heme-Fe is an important source of dietary iron in humans. Caco-2 cells have been used extensively to study human iron absorption with an emphasis on factors affecting nonheme iron absorption. Therefore, we examined several factors known to affect heme iron absorption. Cells grown in bicameral chambers were incubated with high specific activity [59Fe]heme alone or with 1% globin, BSA, or fatty acid-free BSA (BSA-FA) to examine the effect of protein source on absorption. Heme iron absorption was enhanced by globin and inhibited by BSA and BSA-FA. Absorption of heme iron in cells pretreated for 7 days with serum-free medium containing 1, 25, 50, or 100 μM Fe was higher in the 1-μM-Fe pretreatment group than in all other groups (P < 0.05), showing an effect of iron status. Increased heme concentrations resulted in decreased percent absorbed but increased total heme iron absorption and increased transport rate across the basolateral membrane. Finally, cells treated with 10 μM CdCl2, which induces heme oxygenase, demonstrated higher absorption of [59Fe]heme than control cells (P < 0.05). Our results from Caco-2 cells are in agreement with human studies and make this a promising model for examining intestinal heme iron absorption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Issue number5 46-5
StatePublished - Nov 2002


  • Absorption
  • Cell culture
  • Heme oxygenase
  • Intestine
  • Radiolabeled

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology
  • Physiology


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