Iron Deficiency in the Rat: Effects on Phenylalanine Metabolism

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Concentrations of phenylalanine in the plasma were markedly elevated in iron-deficient rats and appeared to vary directly with the degree of iron deficiency. Plasma concentrations of phenylalanine returned to control levels within one week after treatment of the iron-deficient rats with iron dextran. The elevated levels of plasma phenylalanine were probably not produced by a deficiency in liver phenylalanine hydroxylase because levels of activity of the enzyme were found to be normal in the livers of the iron-deficient animals.

The finding of increased plasma levels of phenylalanine suggests that phenylalanine metabolism may be impaired in iron-deficient rats with concomitant increases in compounds formed by alternate pathways of phenylalanine metabolism such as phenylpyruvic acid which may disturb mental function.

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