Divalent metal transporter 1 (DMT1) is a mammalian iron (Fe) transporter and also transports Cadmium (Cd) in vitro. This study compared Cd absorption in DMT1-dysfunctional MK/Rej-mk/mk mice (mk/mk mice) and in DMT1-functional, Fe-deficient wild-type (WT) mice, to clarify the role of DMT1 in intestinal Cd absorption in vivo. Mice were given 1 ppm CdCl2 aq in drinking water for 2 weeks, and the concentrations of Cd and Fe in liver, kidney, and intestinal epithelium were subsequently determined. The Fe concentration in intestinal epithelia of WT mice was decreased in proportion to the level of dietary Fe limitation, while Cd accumulation under the same conditions was increased. DMT1 mRNA expression in the small intestine of Fe-deficient WT mice was clearly increased compared to that in Fe-sufficient WT mice. Iron deficiency resulted in up-regulation of Cd uptake in the intestine of Fe-deficient WT mice. The mk/mk mice have a mutation in DMT1 and loss of its function led to decreased intestinal Fe concentration. However, intestinal Cd accumulation was the same as in WT mice and it was also increased in Fe-deficient situation. There is the possibility that an unknown Cd pathway has taken a role on Cd intestinal absorption in vivo and that this pathway is regulated by food Fe concentrations. Therefore, DMT1 is not the sole transporter of intestinal cadmium absorption in vivo.
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