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The effects of dietary iron concentration on colonic inflammation

Skelton, Jessica (2013) The effects of dietary iron concentration on colonic inflammation. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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Colorectal cancer (CRC) is highly prevalent in Western society with more than 14,000 diagnoses and 4,000 deaths in Australia annually. CRC is caused by both genetic and environmental risk factors, with a number of population studies linking high dietary iron and elevated body iron stores with increased CRC risk. The iron overload disorder, hereditary haemochromatosis, is associated with increased risk of CRC, as are inflammatory bowel diseases including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. A better understanding of the pathogenesis of CRC is required to develop improved medical therapies for individuals most at risk, such as those with hereditary haemochromatosis or inflammatory bowel diseases. Improved disease prevention and management is also important from a public health perspective, and will potentially decrease the incidence and mortality of this malignancy.

In this study, a mouse model of inflammation-associated CRC was used to evaluate the effects of increasing dietary iron concentrations on tissue iron loading and colonic inflammation. Two strains of mice (C57BL/6 and FVB/N) were evaluated to compare their responses to increased dietary iron levels.

The results demonstrated that increased dietary iron increased colonic and liver iron deposition and colonic inflammation via an IL-6/STAT3 signalling pathway in a dose-dependent manner. Both colitis scores and plasma IL-6 levels were positively correlated with increased liver iron levels. Both strains of mice showed similar trends in response to increased dietary iron concentration, though the magnitude of the responses varied between strains.

In conclusion, the results from this study showed that increasing dietary iron concentrations exacerbate colonic inflammation, suggesting that high dietary iron consumption may be linked to an increased risk of CRC.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Supervisor(s): Trinder, Debbie, Chua, Anita and Mead, Robert
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