The pharmacokinetics of a single intravenous injection of 100 mg iron hydroxide-sucrose complex labelled with a tracer in the form of 52Fe/59Fe was followed in six anaemic patients for a period ranging from 6 to 8.3 h using positron emission tomography (PET). Red cell utilization of the labelled iron was followed for 4 weeks. PET data showed radioactive uptake by the liver, spleen and bone marrow. The uptake by the macrophage-rich spleen demonstrated the reticuloendothelial uptake of this iron preparation, with subsequent effective release of that iron for marrow utilization. Red cell utilization, followed for 4 weeks, ranged from 59% to 97%. The bone marrow influx rate constant was independent of blood iron concentration, indicating non-saturation of the transport system in bone marrow. This implied that higher doses of the iron complex can probably be used in the same setting. A higher influx rate into the marrow compared with the liver seemed to be consistent with higher red cell utilization. This would indicate that early distribution of the injected iron complex may predict the long-term utilization.
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