Rockefeller University Hospital, New York, NY 10021.
Long-term treatment with the heme oxygenase inhibitor tin-mesoporphyrin produces an iron deficiency anemia in rats analogous to that we reported in patients with the Crigler-Najjar type I syndrome receiving prolonged treatment with the inhibitor to ameliorate severe jaundice [Pediatrics 1992; 89: 175-182]. A dose- and time-dependent inhibition of intestinal heme oxygenase is produced by tin-mesoporphyrin which is independent of iron status of the animal. Tin-mesoporphyrin inhibits the intestinal enzyme whether administered orally or parenterally. Enzyme inhibition by either route results in diminished uptake of 59Fe from radiolabelled heme in the gut. Since tin-mesoporphyrin stimulates excretion of unmetabolized heme into bile its ability to inhibit intestinal heme oxygenase and to decrease heme-iron absorption in the gut probably accounts in part for the iron deficiency produced by the agent. The availability of an orally active agent which inhibits heme oxygenase and heme-iron absorption in the intestine may prove useful for experimental and therapeutic studies in diseases of iron metabolism.
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