Effect of tannic acid on iron absorption in straw-colored fruit bats (Eidolon helvum)

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Shana R. Lavin, Zhensheng Chen, Steven A. Abrams
Zoo Biology
A Wiley Company, Inc., Wiley Subscription Services
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Abstract 10.1002/zoo.20258.abs Excessive absorption and subsequent storage of dietary iron has been found in a variety of captively held birds and mammals, including fruit bats. It is thought that feeding a diet that is low in iron can prevent the onset of this disease; however, manufacturing a diet with commonly available foodstuffs that contains a sufficiently low iron concentration is difficult. An alternative is to feed captive animals that may be susceptible to this disease potential iron chelators such as tannins that may bind to iron and block its absorption. Using stable isotope methods established in humans, we measured iron bioavailability in straw-colored fruit bats (Eidolon helvum) and tested whether tannic acid significantly reduced the extent of iron absorption. Regardless of dose, tannic acid significantly reduced iron absorption (by 40%) and in the absence of tannic acid, iron absorption was extensive in this species (up to 30%), more so than in humans. Species susceptible to iron storage disease may efficiently absorb iron in the gut regardless of iron status, and supplementing these species with tannic acid in captivity may provide an alternative or additional means of preventing the development of this disease. Zoo Biol 29:335–343, 2010. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.


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