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Is iron over-rated? Sulphates may be the more important compound in development of colitis in rodent models, and perhaps humans
  1. Alan L Buchman
  1. Division of Gastroenterology, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Northfield, Illinois, USA
  1. Correspondence to Professor Alan L Buchman, Division of Gastroenterology, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, 8 Winfield Dr., Chicago, IL 60093, USA; a-buchman{at}

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Werner et al showed that oral iron sulphate supplementation resulted in the development of ileitis in a rodent model, while parenteral administration of the same compound did not.1 I submit that these observations, although valid, may be true and unrelated. The colono-toxic effects of the sulphur component of iron sulphate were first observed following the development of acute colitis in rodents treated with dextran sodium sulphate.2 3 Sulphide compounds appear to be the most toxic to isolated colonocytes.4 Sulphate-reducing bacteria found in the colon and terminal ileum produce hydrogen sulphide,5 which in turn is converted to anionic sulphide by colonic bicarbonate.6 Hydrogen sulphide …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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