Iron is an essential element for hemoglobin synthesis during erythropoiesis. Iron overload, in contrast, adversely affects erythropoiesis and causes organ dysfunction. Research using various animal models may help to elucidate pathophysiological mechanisms induced by excess iron. In the present study, we evaluated the relationship between iron metabolism and erythropoietic activity in the African clawed frog, Xenopus laevis. In X. laevis, both erythropoiesis and iron metabolism occur in the liver. First, we developed a method to quantify iron levels in the liver and plasma using 2-nitroso-5-[N-n-propyl-N-(3-sulfopropyl) amino] phenol (Nitroso-PSAP). We then measured iron levels and analyzed hematopoietic parameters in frogs that were orally administered sodium ferrous citrate (SFC). The hepatic iron level increased in the SFC group, but the number of erythrocytes, hematocrit, and hemoglobin concentration did not change, suggesting that the regulation of the production and release of mature erythrocytes in the liver was not directly affected by dietary iron. At four days after administration of 2 mg/kg SFC, the number of immature erythrocytes decreased in the liver. Interestingly, atypical blood cells with hyper-segmented nuclei were observed, identified by acridine orange cell staining; these atypical blood cells were hardly detectable under the steady state. Compared with previously reported results in mice, the increase in the hepatic iron levels was small, but our results indicate that SFC affects hematopoietic activity. These results establish a novel model for iron metabolism and provide new insights into the relationship between iron metabolism and erythropoiesis in vertebrates.
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