Iron deficiency anemia in patients with inflammatory bowel disease

Clin Exp Gastroenterol. 2013 Jun 4;6:61-70. doi: 10.2147/CEG.S43493. Print 2013.


Iron deficiency anemia is the most common form of anemia worldwide, caused by poor iron intake, chronic blood loss, or impaired absorption. Patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are increasingly likely to have iron deficiency anemia, with an estimated prevalence of 36%-76%. Detection of iron deficiency is problematic as outward signs and symptoms are not always present. Iron deficiency can have a significant impact on a patient's quality of life, necessitating prompt management and treatment. Effective treatment includes identifying and treating the underlying cause and initiating iron replacement therapy with either oral or intravenous iron. Numerous formulations for oral iron are available, with ferrous fumarate, sulfate, and gluconate being the most commonly prescribed. Available intravenous formulations include iron dextran, iron sucrose, ferric gluconate, and ferumoxytol. Low-molecular weight iron dextran and iron sucrose have been shown to be safe, efficacious, and effective in a host of gastrointestinal disorders. Ferumoxytol is the newest US Food and Drug Administration-approved intravenous iron therapy, indicated for iron deficiency anemia in adults with chronic kidney disease. Ferumoxytol is also being investigated in Phase 3 studies for the treatment of iron deficiency anemia in patients without chronic kidney disease, including subgroups with IBD. A review of the efficacy and safety of iron replacement in IBD, therapeutic considerations, and recommendations for the practicing gastroenterologist are presented.

Keywords: anemia; inflammatory bowel disease; intravenous iron; iron deficiency; oral iron; therapy.