Study: Pig skin collagen peptide and iron bond to treat iron deficiency anemia

By Asia Sherman

- Last updated on GMT

© chengyuzheng / Getty Images
© chengyuzheng / Getty Images

Related tags Collagen peptides Iron Iron deficiency anemia Pig

A combination of pig skin collagen peptide and iron (PSCP-Fe) could treat iron-deficiency anemia (IDA) by modulating intestinal flora, according to a recent study.

“Overall, our results elucidate the interactions between gut bacteria and related cytokines and reveal the mechanisms underlying the anti-IDA effect of PSCP-Fe,”​ the team of Chinese researchers wrote. “They will thus provide a theoretical foundation for PSCP-Fe as a new iron nutritional supplement.”

Published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition​, the study was supported by several research funds in the eastern Chinese province of Shandong. 

Pig skin for iron deficiency

Iron deficiency anemia, a condition in which the blood lacks sufficient red blood cells, is the most common form of micronutrient malnutrition. The World Health Organization estimates that it affects over two billion people, mostly in low- and middle-income countries and largely due to insufficient intake and malabsorption of iron.

Effects range from intellectual disability, non- specific immune deficiency, inflammation and cognitive impairment in children to tumors, paralysis, tissue ischemia and digestive system diseases in adults.

Current treatments commonly rely on iron supplementation with daily doses of ferrous sulfate (FeSO4​), but the researchers point to issues with iron bioavailability, lower absorption and poor stability, along with side effects like colitis and liver damage. They hypothesized that a pig skin peptide-iron chelate would improve the composition of gut bacteria to help regulate iron absorption and reduce oxidative stress in the body. 

“There are only a few studies that explore the use of pig skin collagen peptides (PSCP) for the preparation of ferrous chelates,” ​the study noted. “The therapeutic effect of these chelates on IDA has never been reported, and thus, the modulation of gut microbiota in the IDA model remains ambiguous.”

Study details

To prepare the PSCP-Fe, the researchers extracted collagen from fresh pig skin and submitted it to a multi-step process to grab and bind pig skin peptides to the iron compounds. Analysis and infrared spectroscopy confirmed that the amino acids in the PSCP “chelated readily with Fe2+​ through their functional groups.”

“In this study, we first prepared PSCP by enzymatic hydrolysis of pig skin with trypsin and pepsin​,” the researchers explained. “PSCP was then chelated with Fe2+ ​to obtain the PSCP-ferrous chelates (PSCP-Fe). An IDA rat model was then established to evaluate the potential of PSCP-Fe for the treatment of IDA.”

The trial divided a group of 48 four-week-old, male Sprague-Dawley rats (equivalent to 4- to 6-year-old humans) into an IDA test group that consumed a low- Fe2+ ​diet and a control group of eight rats fed on regular rodent food. 

After evaluation, the IDA-induced group was further separated into five groups of eight rats: the model group, the FeSO4​ group, the low-dose PSCP-Fe group, the medium-dose PSCP-Fe group and the high-dose PSCP-FE group. Researchers administered solutions by intragastric injection once a day for three weeks. 

“PSCP-Fe treated reversed the hematology-related indexes, such as red blood cells (RBC), hemoglobin (HGB), hematocrit (HCT), mean corpuscular volume (MCV), mean corpuscular hemoglobin (MCH), mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentrate (MCHC), serum ferritin (SF), serum hepcidin (HEPC) and serum transferrin receptor (TFR),” ​the researchers noted. Novel peptide-iron chelate proved more effective than FeSO4​ and “alleviated the hepatocyte apoptosis and necrosis, Fe2+ loss and injury in IDA rats.”

Fecal sample analysis also showed that the PSCP-Fe treatment could modulate the IDA-induced dysbiosis of intestinal flora and restored a microbial community like that in the control – revealing Subdoligranulum​ and Christensenellaceae​_R-7_group as potential microbial markers for effective PSCP-Fe action in the treatment of IDA.

In a follow-up study, the researchers will further explore the role of PSCP in Fe2+ ​absorption and whether gut microbiota is related to PSCP-Fe absorption.

Source: Frontiers in Nutrition
“A new iron supplement: The chelate of pig skin collagen peptide and Fe2+ can treat iron-deficiency anemia by modulating intestinal flora”
doi: 10.3389/fnut.2022.1055725
Authors: Shan Jiang et al.

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