Vitamin B6 deficiency alters tissue iron concentrations in the Wistar rat

J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2009;23(1):43-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jtemb.2008.07.003. Epub 2008 Oct 30.


Purpose: We investigated the effect of a vitamin B6 deficiency and pair-feeding on tissue trace element status.

Method: Tissue zinc, copper and iron concentrations were measured in 3 groups of young, male Wistar rats receiving a diet of 3.5mg/kg (control group), 0mg/kg (deficient group) and a pair-fed group over 8 weeks. The pair-fed group received the same diet consumed by the control. Tissue trace element analysis was performed using atomic absorption spectrophotometry and plasma vitamin B6 status was determined using HPLC.

Results: Deficiency resulted in elevation in liver iron concentration and reduction in muscle iron concentration. Muscle copper concentrations were reduced in the pair-fed and deficient groups vs. the control group. Tissue zinc concentrations remained unaffected by the deficiency. Kidney iron and heart copper levels were elevated in the pair-fed group.

Conclusions: The liver and muscle iron changes were due to the deficiency and not to reduced calorie intake and the latter may be due to impaired heme synthesis. The differences in copper between the groups were due to reduced food intake. Zinc seems to form a fixed pool in these animals. A dietary deficiency of vitamin B6 impacts on the trace element status of certain tissues in key metabolic tissues and hence needs to be factored into the amelioration of the condition.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Copper / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iron / metabolism*
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Trace Elements / metabolism*
  • Vitamin B 6 Deficiency / metabolism*
  • Zinc / metabolism


  • Trace Elements
  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Zinc