Gut 56:1291-1295 doi:10.1136/gut.2006.108613
  • Liver disease

Proton pump inhibitors suppress absorption of dietary non-haem iron in hereditary haemochromatosis

  1. Carol Hutchinson1,
  2. Catherine A Geissler1,
  3. Jonathan J Powell2,
  4. Adrian Bomford1
  1. 1The Iron Metabolism Interdisciplinary Research Group, King’s College London, London, UK
  2. 2MRC Human Nutrition Research, Cambridge, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr A Bomford
    Institute of Liver Studies, King’s College Hospital, Denmark Hill, London SE5 9RS, UK; adrian.bomford{at}
  • Accepted 28 February 2007
  • Revised 26 January 2007
  • Published Online First 7 March 2007


Background and Aims: During the long-term treatment of patients with hereditary haemochromatosis (HH) the authors observed that proton pump inhibitors (PPI) reduced the requirement for maintenance phlebotomy. Gastric acid plays a crucial role in non-haem iron absorption and the authors performed a case review and intervention study to investigate if PPI-induced suppression of gastric acid would reduce dietary iron absorption in C282Y homozygous patients.

Methods: Phlebotomy requirements to keep serum ferritin ∼50 μg/l before (mean 6.1 (SE 0.6) years) and during (3.8 (0.9) years) administration of a PPI were evaluated in seven patients and a post-prandial study was performed to determine whether PPIs reduce absorption of non-haem iron (14.5 mg) from a test meal in a further 14 phlebotomised patients with normal iron stores.

Results: There was a significant reduction (p<0.001) in the volume of blood removed annually before (2.5 (0.25) l) and while taking (0.5 (0.25) l) a PPI. Administration of a PPI for 7d suppressed absorption of non-haem iron from the meal as shown by a significant reduction (all p<0.01) in: area under the serum curve (2145 (374) versus 1059 (219)), % recovery of administered iron at peak serum iron (20.5 (3.2) versus 11.0 (2.0)%) and peak serum iron (13.6 (2.4) vs 6.1 (1.2) µmol/l) (all values are before vs during PPI).

Conclusions: Administration of a PPI to patients with HH can inhibit the absorption of non-haem iron from a test meal and the habitual diet.


  • Published Online First 30 April 2007

  • Competing interests: None.