Ferrous fumarate deteriorated plasma antioxidant status in patients with Crohn disease

Scand J Gastroenterol. 2003 May;38(5):543-8. doi: 10.1080/00365520310000771.


Background: Iron deficiency anaemia is a frequent complication of Crohn disease. Treatment with ferrous iron (Fe2-) compounds is often unsatisfactory and is associated with gastrointestinal side effects. Theoretically, oral iron supplementation may even be harmful, because iron may reinforce intestinal inflammation by catalysing production of reactive oxygen species. We investigated the effect of ferrous iron on disease activity and plasma antioxidant status in patients with active Crohn disease.

Methods: Ten patients with Crohn disease and iron deficiency and 10 healthy controls were given ferrous fumarate 120 mg for 7 days. The Crohn Disease Activity Index, gastrointestinal complaints and blood samples for antioxidant status, anaemia, inflammation and iron absorption were investigated on day 1 and day 8.

Results: During 1 week of ferrous fumarate supplementation, the Crohn Disease Activity Index tended to increase (P = 0.071). Patients experienced aggravation of diarrhoea, abdominal pain and nausea. Plasma-reduced cysteine was lower (P = 0.038) in patients than it was in controls. One week of ferrous iron supplementation further decreased reduced cysteine (P < 0.001) and significantly decreased plasma-reduced glutathione (P = 0.004) in the patients. Serum iron increased significantly in patients after an oral iron load test (from 5.8 +/- 3.2 micromol/L to 30.9 +/- 13.1 micromol/L).

Conclusions: Treatment of iron deficiency with ferrous fumarate deteriorated plasma antioxidant status and increased specific clinical symptoms in patients with active Crohn disease. Plasma reduced cysteine may be a sensitive indicator for oxidative stress in the intestine.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / blood
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / drug therapy*
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / etiology
  • Antioxidants / analysis
  • Antioxidants / metabolism*
  • Crohn Disease / blood
  • Crohn Disease / complications*
  • Cysteine / blood
  • Dietary Supplements / adverse effects*
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Ferrous Compounds / adverse effects*
  • Ferrous Compounds / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / blood


  • Antioxidants
  • Ferrous Compounds
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Cysteine
  • ferrous fumarate