The safety and tolerability of a potential alginate-based iron chelator: results of a healthy participant study

Richard Horniblow, Pritesh Mistry, Mohammed Nabil Quraishi, Andrew Beggs, Tom van De Weile, Tariq Iqbal, Chris Tselepis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Evidence supporting the ferro-toxic nature of iron in the progression of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is becoming well established. A microbial dysbiosis is observed in IBD patients, and intra-luminal colonic-iron is able to support a more pathogenic community of bacteria; whether this is attributed to the development of IBD and how iron could be mediating these microbial changes is still unknown. Dietary fibres are commonly used in pre-biotic supplements to beneficially affect the host by improving the viability of bacterial communities within the colon. Alginates are a class of biopolymers considered as prebiotics due to their fibre-like composition and are able to bind metal cations, in particular, iron. Considering that iron excess is able to negatively alter the microbiome, the use of alginate as a food supplement could be useful in colonic-iron chelation. As such, this first-in-man study aimed to assess whether the use of alginate as a dietary iron chelator was both safe and well tolerated. In addition, the impact of alginate on the microbiome and iron levels was assessed by using an intestinal model SHIME (Simulation of the Human Intestinal Microbial Ecosystem). Alginate was supplemented into the diets (3 g/day) of healthy volunteers (n = 17) for 28 days. Results from this study suggest that daily ingestion of 3 g alginate was well tolerated with very minor side effects. There were no detrimental changes in a variety of haematological parameters or the intestinal microbiome. The bacterial communities within the SHIME model were also not influenced by iron and or alginate; it is possible that alginate may be susceptible to bacterial or enzymatic degradation within the gastro-intestinal tract.
Original languageEnglish
Article number674
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 21 Mar 2019


  • Adult
  • Alginates/pharmacology
  • Bacteria/metabolism
  • Colon/metabolism
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Dysbiosis/metabolism
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome/drug effects
  • Gastrointestinal Tract/metabolism
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases/microbiology
  • Iron/metabolism
  • Iron Chelating Agents/pharmacology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prebiotics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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