Inflammation Iron Deficiency and Anaemia Study 1

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    London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Updated on 27 January 2022
iron deficiency anemia
iron absorption


Investigator have previously shown that hepcidin is up-regulated even by low levels of inflammation and, according to our prior stable isotope studies, is predicted to block iron absorption. In this follow-up observational study, investigator aim to elucidate the potential drivers of this low-grade inflammation and to recalibrate the relationship between hepcidin and iron absorption using a more direct measure of absorption than the stable isotope method which measures the net of absorption and utilization. Investigator will study 120 ostensibly well children (6-24m) living in the rural region of West Kiang.

Investigator will:

  1. Use detailed clinical screening for possible origins of the low grade inflammation.
  2. Assess iron absorption and its relationship to iron and anaemia status, inflammation, EPO, erythroferrone and hepcidin.


Aim 1:

Hypothesis 1: 'Minor' but persistent infections of the respiratory tract, skin, mouth, and gut cause chronic elevation of hepcidin levels and other markers of infection including CRP.

Research Question 1: What is the relationship between each of the following: CRP, hepcidin, clinical score of skin infections; clinical score of oral health; clinical score of respiratory infections; and systemic markers of gut damage and bacterial translocation (serum EndoCAB and iFABP) and stool markers of inflammation (calprotectin, REG1b and lipocalin2).

Hypothesis 2: Respiratory infections and airway inflammation are the most common cause of low grade inflammation.

Research Question 2: What is the most common source(s) of persistent low-grade inflammation in apparently well children living in rural Gambia.

Aim 2:

Hypothesis: Hepcidin levels above 5.5ng/ml block oral iron absorption.

Research Question: What is the relationship between hepcidin and oral iron absorption in well children living in rural Gambia?

Aim 3:

Hypothesis: Anaemic children with low-grade inflammation have anaemia of inflammation with concomitant iron deficiency that results in inappropriately low levels of EPO production and reticulocytosis for their erythroid mass (Hb levels) levels.

Research Question: Is there decreased EPO synthesis and/or increased EPO resistance in anaemic children with low-grade inflammation living in rural Gambia?

Aim 4:

Hypothesis: First investigator will conduct a hypothesis-free exploratory analysis to assess whether erythroferrone behaves as predicted based upon mouse models (ie up-regulated by stress erythropoiesis and inversely related to hepcidin). Investigator additionally hypothesize that there may be a vicious cycle initiated by inflammation and then perpetuated by the consequent low levels of (iron-restricted) erythropoiesis, leading to low erythroferrone and loss of hepcidin suppression.

Research Question: What is the relationship between erythroferrone, iron status, inflammation, hepcidin, EPO in anaemic and non-anaemic children with and without low-grade inflammation living in rural Gambia? Primary: To examine in detail the pathways by which low-grade inflammation causes iron deficiency anaemia in African children.

Secondary: To assess if anaemia of inflammation and resistance to erythropoietin play a role in causing and perpetuating anaemia in children living in rural Africa.

This is an observational study of 120 children who will be recruited at the routine vaccination clinics or pre-scheduled well-child check-ups at the Keneba clinic. Each child will be seen three times (at 6, 12 and 18 months) and the same protocol will be used at each visit.

Figure 1: Study design At each visit, children will be examined by the Research Clinician or PI using pre-determined validated checklists for possible sources of low-grade inflammation. Each participant will be given a clinical score for skin conditions, oral health, and respiratory infections/airway disease.

After the clinical examination, an oral iron absorption protocol will be initiated:

Step 1: A venous blood sample will be collected and assayed for full blood count (including reticulocyte count) and serum iron markers, hepcidin, erythropoietin (EPO), erythroferrone, IL-6 and EndoCab; Step 2: Children will be given an oral dose of liquid ferrous fumarate at 2mg/kg; Step 3: Between 3-4 hours later a venous blood sample will be drawn for measurement serum iron markers. The change in serum iron levels (measured before and after dosing) will be used as a direct measurement of iron absorption.

Condition Blood disorder, Hematological Disorders, Anemia, Anemia, Anemia; Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Anemia; Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Hematological Disorders, anaemia
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04097639
SponsorLondon School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Last Modified on27 January 2022

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