Acute iron intoxication: Significant differences between sexes

Matitiahu Berkovitch, Amir Livne, Gili Lushkov, Joseph Barr, Tsivia Tauber, Gideon Eshel, Gideon Koren, Tzvi Bistritzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Iron, one of the common medications in use among children and adults, is the leading cause of pediatric unintentional ingestion fatalities and is not an uncommon poisoning among adults. Accidental ingestion is common because iron-containing compounds are readily available, brightly colored, often sugar coated, and frequently considered harmless vitamins. There are no data on differences between sexes with regard to iron intoxication, and the management of iron overdose is the same for females and males. After oral administration by gavage of the LD50 of iron to Wistar rats, the pharmacokinetics of iron, baseline and peak serum iron levels, and mortality rates were compared between sexes. Prepubertal females died significantly more than males (p <0.01), pubertal females died significantly earlier than males (p <0.04), and the same was true among adult rats (p = 0.02). Baseline serum iron levels were not significantly different between prepubertal female and male rats, but female pubertal rats had significantly higher baseline iron levels than males (p = 0.006). After iron administration, females had significantly higher peak serum iron concentrations (p <0.03). Mechanisms of iron absorption are still not completely known and, probably, there are differences in iron absorption between sexes, which may account for the differences in serum iron levels and mortality rates. While the therapeutic approach in cases of intoxication is individual, iron intoxication, as may be true for other poisonings also, treatments administered to females may need to be different from that given to males.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-267
Number of pages3
JournalVeterinary and Human Toxicology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


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