Maternal quercetin intake during pregnancy results in an adapted iron homeostasis at adulthood

K. Vanhees*, R.W.L. Godschalk, A. Sanders, S.B. Khosrovani, F.J. van Schooten

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

27 Citations (Web of Science)


The flavonoid quercetin is a powerful iron chelator, capable of oxidizing heme iron in hemoglobin from Fe(2+) to Fe(3+). Moreover, quercetin crosses the placenta and accumulates in the fetus. Since adaptations made by the fetus to cope with inappropriate nutrition may lead to permanent changes, a relative high intake of quercetin may have detrimental affects later in life. Therefore, we investigated the effects of maternal exposure to quercetin (302mg/kg feed), starting from 3 days before conception until the end of gestation, on erythropoiesis and iron homeostasis at embryonic day 14.5 and in 12-week old mice. During fetal development, quercetin exposure had no effect on the erythroid lineage switch and concomitant globin switch. However, adult mice prenatally exposed to quercetin had significant increase iron storage in the liver, by upregulating iron-associated cytokine expression (hepcidin, IL-1beta, IL-6 and IL-10). These long term changes in gene expression could be mediated through epigenetic modifications, as prenatal quercetin exposure resulted in a modest hypermethylation of repetitive elements. Despite the increased iron levels, oxidative stress was significantly decreased in the liver of these animals as assessed by 8-oxo-dG levels. These data suggest that prenatal quercetin exposure results in increased iron storage, while decreasing oxidative stress induced DNA damage together with a shift towards increased expression of inflammation associated cytokines in the liver at adult age.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-359
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011

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