The behavior of asialotransferrin-iron in the rat

Y. Beguin, G. Bergamaschi, H. A. Huebers, C. A. Finch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The effect of desialylation of rat and human transferrins on hepatocyte processing of the protein and its iron was studied in rats. No alteration in early transferrin catabolism was observed. Radioiron disappearance from the plasma and liver iron uptake were more rapid for asialotransferrins than for normal transferrins (P <.001). Furthermore, radioiron plasma clearance of human tri-sialotransferrin was faster (P <.05) and liver uptake higher (P <.002) than for human pentasialotransferrin. When the asialoglycoprotein receptor was blocked by the prior injection of asialofetuin, asialotransferrin behaved like normal transferrin. When the transferrin receptor was blocked by the prior injection of 50 mg human diferric transferrin, iron uptake from all transferrins was delayed to such an extent that uptake through both receptors seemed to be affected. Approximately 90% of the hepatic radioiron from all transferrins was chelated by desferrioxamine and excreted into the bile, indicating its uptake by the hepatocyte rather than the reticuloendothelial (RE) cell. The rate of iron release into the plasma and its subsequent accumulation in the red cell mass over a 2-week period was similar for human asialotransferrin, ferritin, and hemoglobin iron. This study 1) confirmed that asialotransferrin-iron uptake by the hepatocyte is mediated by both transferrin and asialoglycoprotein receptors; 2) demonstrated that not only asialotransferrin but also transferrin of low sialic acid content will increase iron turnover and lead to excessive iron loading of the hepatocyte; 3) and showed that the intrahepatocyte metabolism of asialotransferrin-iron did not differ from that of iron delivered by normal transferrin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)204-210
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Hematology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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