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Nutrients 2016, 8(6), 362;

A Novel in Vivo Model for Assessing the Impact of Geophagic Earth on Iron Status

Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA
USDA-ARS, Robert W. Holley Center for Agriculture and Health, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA
Department of Food Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA
Department of Population Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA
Department of Anthropology, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60208, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 4 May 2016 / Revised: 31 May 2016 / Accepted: 2 June 2016 / Published: 13 June 2016
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The causes and consequences of geophagy, the craving and consumption of earth, remain enigmatic, despite its recognition as a behavior with public health implications. Iron deficiency has been proposed as both a cause and consequence of geophagy, but methodological limitations have precluded a decisive investigation into this relationship. Here we present a novel in vivo model for assessing the impact of geophagic earth on iron status: Gallus gallus (broiler chicken). For four weeks, animals were gavaged daily with varying dosages of geophagic material or pure clay mineral. Differences in haemoglobin (Hb) across treatment groups were assessed weekly and differences in liver ferritin, liver iron, and gene expression of the iron transporters divalent metal transporter 1 (DMT1), duodenal cytochrome B (DcytB) and ferroportin were assessed at the end of the study. Minimal impact on iron status indicators was observed in all non-control groups, suggesting dosing of geophagic materials may need refining in future studies. However, this model shows clear advantages over prior methods used both in vitro and in humans, and represents an important step in explaining the public health impact of geophagy on iron status. View Full-Text
Keywords: geophagy; iron absorption; intestine; broiler chicken; anaemia; pica; clay geophagy; iron absorption; intestine; broiler chicken; anaemia; pica; clay

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Seim, G.L.; Tako, E.; Ahn, C.; Glahn, R.P.; Young, S.L. A Novel in Vivo Model for Assessing the Impact of Geophagic Earth on Iron Status. Nutrients 2016, 8, 362.

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