Dr Christine Kennedy - Understanding micronutrient interactions and absorption
Contact details for Dr Christine Kennedy (nee Lang)
Telephone:+44 (0)1224 438721
Micronutrients are only required in small amounts, but are essential for many physiological processes. Deficiencies in micronutrients have severe health consequences. Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies and is most prevalent in children and women of child-bearing age. Iron is not only required for oxygen transport through the body (via hemoglobin), but is also essential for energy metabolism and the function of several important enzymes. Therefore it is not surprising that iron deficiency has been associated with severe health consequences. During pregnancy iron deficiency can result in negative pregnancy outcome such as premature birth and low birth weight.
The occurrence of iron deficiency in women of childbearing age and specifically maternal iron deficiency is not limited to developing countries. The intake of iron decreases with increasing socio-economic depravation. The same is true for other micronutrients such as zinc and copper. This may, at least in part, explain some of the differences in health and morbidity in the population of Scotland.
There can be a great difference in the amount of iron taken in through the diet and the amount of iron that is actually absorbed into the body. Many factors can influence this percentage. For example, iron absorption is increased in the case of iron deficiency and pregnancy. The form of iron is also important. Haeme iron, mostly present in meat, is absorbed with great efficiency, but phytates in food and calcium can reduce uptake. There are also molecules in meat that seem to enhance absorption.
The aim of our work is to further our understanding how micronutrients interact with each other and influence each others’ absorption. We will look at the effect of food components on the absorption of iron and other micronutrients. This will help us identify which diets are most efficient in improving the status of iron and other micronutrients. These results will help making food recommendations and in considering how to reformulate food to maximise its nutritional value.
McMullen, S., S. C. Langley-Evans, L. Gambling, C. Lang, A. Swali, H.J. McArdle. "A common cause for a common phenotype: the gatekeeper hypothesis in fetal programming." Med Hypotheses 78(1): 88-94.
Lang C, Hildebrandt A, Brand F, Opitz L, Dihazi H, Lüder CG. “Impaired Chromatin Remodelling at STAT1-Regulated Promoters Leads to Global Unresponsiveness of Toxoplasma gondii-Infected Macrophages to IFN-γ.” PLoS Pathog. 2012 Jan;8(1):e1002483. Epub 2012 Jan 19
McArdle, H.J., Lang, C., Hayes, H., Gambling, L. “Role of the placenta in regulation of fetal iron status.” Nutrition reviews, 69 (Sp.1) November 2011 pp. S17-S22
Gambling, L., Lang, C., McArdle, H.J. “Fetal regulation of iron transport during pregnancy.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,94 (6) December 2011 pp. 1903S-1907S
Windheim, M., C. Lang, M. Peggie, L. A. Plater and P. Cohen (2007). Molecular mechanisms involved in the regulation of cytokine production by muramyl dipeptide. Biochem J 404(2): 179-90.
Lang, C., Gross, U., Lüder, C.G.K. (2007)."Subversion of innate and adaptive immune responses by Toxoplasma gondii". Parasitol Res. 2007 Jan;100(2):191-203
Lang, C., M. Algner, N. Beinert, U. Gross and C. G. Luder (2006). Diverse mechanisms employed by Toxoplasma gondii to inhibit IFN-gamma-induced major histocompatibility complex class II gene expression. Microbes Infect 8(8): 1994-2005.