Parenteral iron-polysaccharide complexes are increasingly applied. The pharmacokinetics of iron sucrose have been assessed by our group using positron emission tomography (PET). A single intravenous injection of 100 mg iron as iron (III) hydroxide-polymaltose complex, labelled with a tracer in the form of 52Fe/59Fe, was similarly assessed in six patients using PET for about 8 h. Red cell utilization was followed for 4 weeks. Iron polymaltose was similarly distributed to the liver, spleen and bone marrow. However, a larger proportion of this complex was rapidly distributed to the bone marrow. The shorter equilibration phase for the liver, about 25 min, indicates the minimal role of the liver for direct distribution. Splenic uptake also reflected the reticuloendothelial handling of this complex. Red cell utilization ranged from 61% to 99%. Despite the relatively higher uptake by the bone marrow, there was no saturation of marrow transport systems at this dose level. In conclusion, high red cell utilization of iron polymaltose occurred in anaemic patients. The major portion of the injected dose was rapidly distributed to the bone marrow. In addition, the reticuloendothelial uptake of this complex may reflect the safety of polysaccharide complexes. Non-saturation of transport systems to the bone marrow indicated the presence of a large interstitial transport pool, which might possibly be transferrin.
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