Plasma free iron: a possible cause of oedema in kwashiorkor.
Oedema is a sine qua non for the diagnosis of kwashiorkor yet the mechanisms leading to oedema remain ill defined.
To relate the plasma concentration of radical promoting 'free' iron to the degree of oedema in patients with kwashiorkor.
University teaching hospital.
Fifteen children with kwashiorkor, nine of whom had severe and six of whom had a moderate degree of oedema.
Plasma 'free' iron was measured as bleomycin detectable iron (BDI) and related to severity of oedema and plasma albumin concentration.
BDI was significantly higher in the patients with severe oedema (20.5 v 6.75 mumol/l) whereas the albumin concentrations were similar (16 v 17 g/l). BDI was no longer present in any patients 30 days after admission.
'Free' circulating iron may contribute to the oedema of kwashiorkor, and its sequestration could hasten recovery and decrease morbidity and mortality.
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Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch, South Africa.
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Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't