Acute iron intoxication is a frequent, sometimes life-threatening, form of poisoning. Present therapy, in severe cases, includes oral and intravenous administration of the potent iron chelator, deferoxamine. Unfortunately, high dose intravenous deferoxamine causes acute hypotension additive with that engendered by the iron poisoning itself. To obviate this problem, we have covalently attached deferoxamine to high molecular weight carbohydrates such as dextran and hydroxyethyl starch. These macromolecular forms of deferoxamine do not cause detectable decreases in blood pressure of experimental animals, even when administered intravenously in very large doses, and persist in circulation much longer than the free drug. These novel iron-chelating substances, but not deferoxamine itself, will prevent mortality from otherwise lethal doses of iron administered to mice either orally or intraperitoneally. Further reflecting this enhanced therapeutic efficacy, the high molecular weight iron chelators also abrogate iron-mediated hepatotoxicity, suppressing the release of alanine aminotransferase. We conclude that high molecular weight derivatives of deferoxamine hold promise for the effective therapy of acute iron intoxication and may also be useful in other clinical circumstances in which control of free, reactive iron is therapeutically desirable.
J R Mahoney Jr, P E Hallaway, B E Hedlund, J W Eaton