Effects of dietary iron deficiency or overload on bone: Dietary details matter

Bone. 2024 Jul:184:117092. doi: 10.1016/j.bone.2024.117092. Epub 2024 Apr 2.


Purpose: Bone is susceptible to fluctuations in iron homeostasis, as both iron deficiency and overload are linked to poor bone strength in humans. In mice, however, inconsistent results have been reported, likely due to different diet setups or genetic backgrounds. Here, we assessed the effect of different high and low iron diets on bone in six inbred mouse strains (C57BL/6J, A/J, BALB/cJ, AKR/J, C3H/HeJ, and DBA/2J).

Methods: Mice received a high (20,000 ppm) or low-iron diet (∼10 ppm) after weaning for 6-8 weeks. For C57BL/6J males, we used two dietary setups with similar amounts of iron, yet different nutritional compositions that were either richer ("TUD study") or poorer ("UCLA study") in minerals and vitamins. After sacrifice, liver, blood and bone parameters as well as bone turnover markers in the serum were analyzed.

Results: Almost all mice on the UCLA study high iron diet had a significant decrease of cortical and trabecular bone mass accompanied by high bone resorption. Iron deficiency did not change bone microarchitecture or turnover in C57BL/6J, A/J, and DBA/2J mice, but increased trabecular bone mass in BALB/cJ, C3H/HeJ and AKR/J mice. In contrast to the UCLA study, male C57BL/6J mice in the TUD study did not display any changes in trabecular bone mass or turnover on high or low iron diet. However, cortical bone parameters were also decreased in TUD mice on the high iron diet.

Conclusion: Thus, these data show that cortical bone is more susceptible to iron overload than trabecular bone and highlight the importance of a nutrient-rich diet to potentially mitigate the negative effects of iron overload on bone.

Keywords: Bone; Mouse strains; iron deficiency; iron diet; iron overload.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone and Bones* / drug effects
  • Bone and Bones* / metabolism
  • Diet
  • Iron Deficiencies
  • Iron Overload* / metabolism
  • Iron, Dietary / administration & dosage
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL