A randomized controlled trial of oral versus intravenous iron in chronic kidney disease

Am J Nephrol. 2006;26(5):445-54. doi: 10.1159/000096174. Epub 2006 Oct 11.


Background: It is unknown whether intravenous iron or oral iron repletion alone can correct anemia associated with chronic kidney disease (CKD). We conducted a randomized multicenter controlled trial in adult anemic, iron-deficient non-dialysis CKD (ND-CKD) patients (>or=stage 3) not receiving erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs).

Methods: The participants were randomized to receive either a sodium ferric gluconate complex (intravenous iron) 250 mg i.v. weekly x 4 or ferrous sulfate (oral iron) 325 mg t.i.d. x 42 days. Hemoglobin (Hgb), ferritin and transferrin saturation (TSAT) were measured serially, and the Kidney Disease Quality of Life (KDQoL) questionnaire was administered on days 1 and 43. The primary outcome variable was change from baseline (CFB) to endpoint in Hgb values.

Results: Seventy-five patients were analyzed (intravenous iron n = 36, oral iron n = 39). CFB in Hgb was similar in the two groups (intravenous iron 0.4 g/dl vs. oral iron 0.2 g/dl, p = n.s.). However, the increase in Hgb was only significant with intravenous iron (p < 0.01). In comparison to oral iron, intravenous iron achieved greater improvements in ferritin (232.0 +/- 160.8 vs. 55.9 +/- 236.2 ng/ml, p < 0.001) and TSAT (8.3 +/- 7.5 vs. 2.9 +/- 8.8%, p = 0.007). Intravenous iron caused greater improvements in KDQoL scores than oral iron (p < 0.05). The most common side effect reported with intravenous iron was hypotension, while constipation was more common with oral iron.

Conclusions: Oral and intravenous iron similarly increase Hgb in anemic iron-depleted ND-CKD patients not receiving ESAs. Although in comparison to oral iron, intravenous iron may result in a more rapid repletion of iron stores and greater improvement in quality of life, it exposes the patients to a greater risk of adverse effects and increases inconvenience and cost.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chronic Disease
  • Erythropoiesis / drug effects
  • Female
  • Ferric Compounds / administration & dosage*
  • Ferric Compounds / adverse effects
  • Ferric Compounds / therapeutic use
  • Hematinics / administration & dosage*
  • Hematinics / adverse effects
  • Hematinics / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Kidney Diseases / blood
  • Kidney Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors


  • Ferric Compounds
  • Hematinics
  • ferric gluconate