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Plasma free iron: a possible cause of oedema in kwashiorkor
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  1. A A Sive,
  2. W S Dempster,
  3. H Malan,
  4. S Rosseau,
  5. H deV Heese
  1. Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Institute of Child Health, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7700, South Africa
  1. Dr A A Sive, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Institute of Child Health, Red Cross Children’s Hospital, Rondebosch 7700, South Africa.

Abstract

BACKGROUND Oedema is a sine qua nonfor the diagnosis of kwashiorkor yet the mechanisms leading to oedema remain ill defined.

AIMS To relate the plasma concentration of radical promoting ‘free’ iron to the degree of oedema in patients with kwashiorkor.

SETTING University teaching hospital.

PATIENTS Fifteen children with kwashiorkor, nine of whom had severe and six of whom had a moderate degree of oedema.

METHODS Plasma ‘free’ iron was measured as bleomycin detectable iron (BDI) and related to severity of oedema and plasma albumin concentration.

RESULTS BDI was significantly higher in the patients with severe oedema (20.5 v 6.75 μmol/l) whereas the albumin concentrations were similar (16 v 17 g/l). BDI was no longer present in any patients 30 days after admission.

CONCLUSIONS ‘Free’ circulating iron may contribute to the oedema of kwashiorkor, and its sequestration could hasten recovery and decrease morbidity and mortality.

  • kwashiorkor
  • oedema
  • free iron
  • bleomycin assay.
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