Abnormalities of iron homeostasis has been shown to cause insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Treatment with iron chelators has shown to reverse several chronic diseases including type 2 diabetes. Carnosine, an over-the-counter food supplement with chelating properties, has been shown to lower serum iron and glucose concentrations in diabetic rodents. We have previously shown that carnosine supplementation prevented worsening of glucose metabolism in healthy overweight and obese adults. Yet, the role of carnosine on markers of iron metabolism in humans has not been investigated. We aimed to determine whether carnosine supplementation has an effect on iron parameters in overweight and obese, otherwise healthy adults. We included twenty-six participants, which were randomly allocated to receive 1g carnosine (n=14) or identical placebo (n=12) twice daily for 12 weeks. Iron parameters including iron, ferritin, transferrin, soluble transferrin receptor, total iron binding capacity and iron saturation were measured in serum or plasma by standard commercial assays (Beckman Coulter Diagnostics, New South Wales, Australia). Carnosine supplementation decreased plasma soluble transferrin receptor compared to placebo (mean change difference: -0.07 ± 0.0mg/l, p = 0.04). None of the other iron parameters were different between carnosine and placebo groups. Soluble transferrin receptor was inversely associated with urinary carnosine concentrations after adjusting for age, sex and body mass index (β coefficient: -0.01; 95% confidence interval: -0.02 to -0.003). Neither carnosinase-1 activity nor content correlated with soluble transferrin receptor. Our findings suggest that carnosine may regulate iron metabolism in high risk groups that may contribute to the prevention of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Larger human clinical trials are required to confirm our results.


B. de Courten: None. J. Ukropec: None. G. Aldini: None. B. Ukropcova: None. E. Baye: None.

Readers may use this article as long as the work is properly cited, the use is educational and not for profit, and the work is not altered. More information is available at http://www.diabetesjournals.org/content/license.