The team studied the effect of iron depletion in carbohydrate-intolerant patients with clinical evidence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
They reported their findings in the April issue of Gastroenterology.
Increased body iron, genetic hemochromatosis (GH) mutations, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) tend to cluster in carbohydrate-intolerant patients.
In an attempt to further clarify the interrelationships among these conditions, the authors studied 42 carbohydrate-intolerant patients.
All were free of the common GH mutations, C282Y and H63D, and had a serum iron saturation lower than 50%.
| Iron depletion improved plasma insulin concentrations.
| Gastroenterology |
The researchers measured body iron stores, and induced iron depletion to a level of near-iron deficiency (NID) by quantitative phlebotomy.
In the 17 patients with clinical evidence of NAFLD, they could not demonstrate supranormal levels of body iron (1.6 vs 1.4 g).
However, at NID, there was a 40%-55% improvement of both fasting and glucose-stimulated plasma insulin concentrations. There was also a near-normalization of serum alanine aminotransferase activity (from 61 to 32 IU/L).
Francesco S. Facchini, of the University of California San Francisco and San Francisco General Hospital, concluded on behalf of fellow authors, "These results reflect the insulin-sparing effect of iron depletion, and indicate a key role of iron and hyperinsulinemia in the pathogenesis of NAFLD."