Misplaced iron in kwashiorkor

Eur J Clin Nutr. 1995 Mar;49(3):208-10.


Objectives: To determine the presence of radical promoting iron (non-protein-bound or loosely bound or free iron) in the plasma of children with kwashiorkor.

Design: The bleomycin assay was employed for the quantitation of free or loosely bound iron.

Setting: The Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital, Cape Town, Tertiary Care.

Subjects: Fifty children on admission with kwashiorkor: six with marasmus and twelve healthy well-nourished controls.

Results: Non-protein-bound iron was detected in the plasma of 58% of children with kwashiorkor but was absent in marasmic and healthy well-nourished children.

Conclusions: The presence of radical promoting iron supports the hypothesis that a free radical injury probably plays a role in the pathogenesis of kwashiorkor and its removal may improve mortality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bleomycin
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Iron / blood*
  • Kwashiorkor / blood
  • Kwashiorkor / diagnosis
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein-Energy Malnutrition / blood*
  • Protein-Energy Malnutrition / diagnosis


  • Bleomycin
  • Iron