The use of skin Fe levels as a surrogate marker for organ Fe levels, to monitor treatment in cases of iron overload
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A system based on the detection of K-shell x-ray fluorescence (XRF) has been used to investigate whether a correlation exists between the concentration of iron in the skin and the concentration of iron in the liver, as the degree of iron loading increases. The motivation behind this work is to develop a non-invasive method of determining the extent of the body's iron stores via measurements on the skin, in order to monitor the efficacy of chelation therapy administered to patients with beta-thalassaemia. Sprague-Dawley rats were iron loaded via injections of iron dextran and subsequently treated with the iron chelator CP94. The non-haem iron concentrations of the liver, heart and spleen were determined using bathophenanthroline sulphonate as the chromogen reagent. Samples of abdominal skin were taken and the iron concentrations determined using XRF. A strong correlation between the skin iron concentration and the liver iron concentration has been demonstrated (R2 = 0.86). Similar correlations exist for the heart and the spleen. These results show that this method holds great potential as a tool in the diagnosis and treatment of hereditary haemochromatosis and beta-thalassaemia.
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