This paper describes an attempt to measure in vitro iron uptake from serum by human thyroid slices and to relate the uptake to tissue iron stores, folic acid status, and tissue viability. It is an extension of work previously reported (Buchanan, 1969).
Thyroids were obtained from patients undergoing partial thyroidectomy for colloid goitre and serum from clinically normal healthy adults. The haemoglobin, serum iron, and folic acid levels of both thyroid and serum donors were measured and thyroids examined histologically for the presence of stainable iron. Viable and non-viable tissue slices were incubated in sera treated with radioactive iron so as to produce high and normal levels of transferrin saturation.
Iron was taken up both from sera with normal and high transferrin saturation but the amount was, in almost all cases, greater from the more highly saturated.
The uptake by non-viable tissue was appreciable but did not vary to any great extent from one serum to the next, and was attributed to simple diffusion of ionic iron into the tissue. There was, however, marked variation in uptake from different sera by viable tissue. It was concluded therefore that viability is a factor affecting the uptake. As the variation in uptake by viable tissue incubated in a single serum was significantly less than tissue incubated in a number of different sera it was further concluded that there was also a factor in the serum itself affecting iron uptake. The nature of the factor was not elucidated but neither folic acid nor levels of iron stores appeared to influence uptake because no correlation was found between iron uptake and iron stores or folic acid.
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