Pregnancy and maternal iron deficiency stimulate hepatic CRBPII expression in rats

Sarah C Cottin, Lorraine Gambling, Helen E Hayes, Valerie J Stevens, Harry J McArdle

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21 Citations (Scopus)


Iron deficiency impairs vitamin A (VA) metabolism in the rat but the mechanisms involved are unknown and the effect during development has not been investigated. We investigated the effect of pregnancy and maternal iron deficiency on VA metabolism in the mother and fetus. 54 rats were fed either a control or iron deficient diet for 2weeks prior to mating and throughout pregnancy. Another 15 female rats followed the same diet and were used as non-pregnant controls. Maternal liver, placenta and fetal liver were collected at d21 for total VA, retinol and retinyl ester (RE) measurement and VA metabolic gene expression analysis. Iron deficiency increased maternal hepatic RE (P<.05) and total VA (P<.0001), fetal liver RE (P<.05), and decreased placenta total VA (P<.05). Pregnancy increased Cellular Retinol Binding Protein (CRBP)-II gene expression by 7 fold (P=.001), decreased VA levels (P=.0004) and VA metabolic gene expression (P<.0001) in the liver. Iron deficiency increased hepatic CRBPII expression by a further 2 fold (P=.044) and RBP4 by~20% (P=.005), increased RBPR2 and decreased CRBPII, LRAT, and TTR in fetal liver, while it had no effect on VA metabolic gene expression in the placenta. Hepatic CRBPII expression is increased by pregnancy and further increased by iron deficiency, which may play an important role in VA metabolism and homeostasis. Maternal iron deficiency also alters VA metabolism in the fetus, which is likely to have consequences for development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-63
Number of pages9
JournalThe Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry
Early online date10 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016

Bibliographical note

HJM and SCC designed the research; LG, HEH, VJS and SCC conducted the research; SCC analyzed the data and wrote the manuscript; HJM reviewed the manuscript. HJM and SCC take responsibility of data interpretation and presentation. All authors read and approved the final manuscript. We are grateful for the technical assistance of Gill Campbell (ICPMS analysis) and Lynn Pirie (retinol analysis), the Biomedical Research facility staff and Dr. Bill Rees for his critical reading of the manuscript. This work was supported by Scottish Government (Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services).


  • iron deficiency
  • vitamin A
  • pregnancy
  • retinol
  • retinylester
  • cellular retinol binding protein (CRBP)-II


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