The Effects of Dietary Ferric Iron and Iron Deprivation on the Bacterial Composition of the Mouse Intestine
The influence of dietary ferric iron on the intestinal microbiota of mice was investigated with a view to promoting benign lactic acid bacteria (which have minimal iron requirements) in order to enhance colonization-resistance potential. Three groups of eight mice received a diet differing only in iron content, for a period of 12 weeks. Dietary iron deprivation resulted in overall increased small intestinal bacterial populations, including lactic acid bacteria, but these differences were generally not significant (p > 0.05). With the exception of coliforms, all examined bacterial groups (anaerobes, micro-aerophiles, lactobacilli, and enterococci) were significantly (p < 0.05) elevated in the colons of iron-deprived mice. The relatively low numbers of total anaerobes in the colons of iron-replete and iron-overloaded mice suggested that, as well as promotion of bacteria under iron-deprived condition, provision of ferric iron suppressed bacteria, probably by oxidation of normally reduced environments.
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