Bariatric surgery can correct iron depletion in morbidly obese women: a link with chronic inflammation

Obes Surg. 2008 Jun;18(6):709-14. doi: 10.1007/s11695-007-9276-y. Epub 2008 Mar 11.


Background: Obesity is associated with a chronic and low-grade inflammation which may cause hypoferremia as seen in patients with chronic inflammatory diseases. The aim of the present study was to investigate the relationship between iron status and markers of inflammation in morbidly obese women and the effect of bariatric surgery.

Methods: Our cohort of patients consisted of 178 morbidly obese females selected for bariatric surgery. Clinical and biochemical data were recorded before surgery, and histopathological studies were carried out on preoperative liver biopsy samples. Fifty-five patients have been followed up after bariatric surgery.

Results: A high prevalence of iron depletion was present in this cohort, with 53% having a transferrin saturation ratio below 0.20. Iron depletion was significantly correlated with raised levels of indices of inflammation, C-reactive protein (CRP), orosomucoid and haptoglobin), and with the white blood cell count. In multivariate analysis, orosomucoid and CRP were independently associated with iron depletion. Moreover, 6 months after bariatric surgery, inflammation level decreased, which was inversely correlated with the increase in transferrin saturation.

Conclusions: Iron depletion is common in morbidly obese women. Low-grade chronic inflammation associated with obesity could be a modulator of iron uptake and utilization. Bariatric surgery may reduce chronic inflammation and improve iron status.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute-Phase Proteins / analysis
  • Adult
  • Bariatric Surgery*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Iron / metabolism
  • Iron Deficiencies*
  • Laparoscopy*
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity, Morbid / complications
  • Obesity, Morbid / metabolism
  • Obesity, Morbid / surgery*
  • Transferrin / analysis


  • Acute-Phase Proteins
  • Transferrin
  • Iron