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DTPA (diethylene triamine pentaacetate)

> Curtis Hoganson wrote (APD #863):
> It (DTPA) is listed in the Merck Index as a therapeutic
> chelating agent for iron, but doesn't specify whether it is used in treating
> anemia or iron overload.

I can assure you that a high-affinity iron chelator won't be used for treating anaemia. It is appropriate in iron overload (haemosiderosis and haemochromatosis) but not often so used - it is in fact safer to remove blood at regular intervals.

I would like to mention in passing that a lot of contributors to this newsgroup seem to think that iron chelates are somehow magic and are by necessity far better than inorganic iron. One contributor mentioned that his girlfriend's anaemia improved on iron chelate when ordinary iron supplements had failed to help.  This is not usually the case, and there may have been other factors involved. In fact, it is unwise to try to get iron into the body at a greater rate than the gut allows. The gut deliberately excludes iron to prevent iron toxicity, which develops unfailingly if you deliberately bypass what is called the "mucosal block". In humans, the only reason to use organic iron compounds rather than inorganic iron salts for therapy is that the latter can be a bit irritating - nausea, etc. Furthermore, this is at therapeutic concentrations - inorganic iron at normal dietary levels is just fine. Since plants in nature typically get iron from the substrate in inorganic form also, I would not be too sure that chelates are the answer to every problem.

Ross Drewe