Iron metabolism in mynah birds (Gracula religiosa) resembles human hereditary haemochromatosis

Asli Mete, H. G. Hendriks, P. H M Klaren, G. M. Dorrestein, J. E. Van Dijk, J. J M Marx

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Iron overload is a very frequent finding in several animal species and a genetic predisposition is suggested. In one of the most commonly reported species with susceptibility for iron overload (mynah bird), it was recently shown that the cause of this pathophysiology is high uptake and retention of dietary iron. Here we compare susceptible (mynahs) with non-susceptible avian species (chickens) by evaluating iron uptake at the intestinal absorptive cell level. Enterocytes from mynahs and chickens were isolated and uptake of Fe(II) and Fe(III) was studied in vitro. It was found that Fe(III) uptake is much lower than Fe(II) uptake for both species. Although liver iron, present only in hepatocytes, was at least 10-fold higher in mynahs than chickens, enterocyte Fe(II) uptake was considerably higher in mynahs. Fe(II) uptake showed saturation at the studied concentrations in both species. Kinetic studies revealed a three-fold increase in Vmax for mynahs. Calculated values for the uptake kinetics of the probable membrane transporter suggest that mynah bird enterocytes have a significantly higher limiting uptake rate, due to the possible increase in the number of transporters when compared with chicken enterocytes. The susceptibility of this species is due to intestinal iron uptake despite hepatic iron accumulation, implicating a 'mis-sensing' of body iron similarly to human hereditary haemochromatosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)625-632
Number of pages8
JournalAvian Pathology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • veterinary(all)


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