Distribution of iron in the gastrointestinal tract of the common vampire bat: Evidence for macrophage-linked iron clearance

Authors

  • David Morton,

    Corresponding author
    1. Division of Biological Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853
    2. Department of Biological Sciences, Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio 45435
    • Department of Biological Sciences, Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio 45435
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  • William A. Wimsatt

    1. Division of Biological Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853
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Abstract

Iron in the tissues of the digestive tract of the common vampire bat (Desmodus rotundus) has been studied using histochemical, electron microscopic, and autoradiographic methods. This animal is an obligate sanguivore and has a daily intake of dietary iron 800 times that of man. The amount and distribution of tissue iron is not affected by either a single blood meal or starvation but does reflect the degree of siderosis of each animal's liver and spleen. By 7 days after the injection of a trace amount of 55Fe into the peritoneal cavity, labelled siderotic macrophages are present both on the serosa and within the walls of the stomach and intestine. In the lower intestine, such cells can be derived from the germinal centers of Peyer's patches. Siderotic macrophages are often situated in the lamina propria under areas of siderotic epithelium. Label is also present in the apical cytoplasm of mucosal epithelial cells, a region of abundant siderosomes. The ultrastructure of these organelles is extremely variable. Accumulations of membranous whorls and stacks, “stippled bodies,” ferritin molecules, and larger “ferruginous” complexes are bounded by one or a number of membranes. Iron is excreted when these epithelial cells are desquamated into the gut lumen. Similar Prussian blue-positive granules are present in the feces. Unlike other glandular cells, the parietal cells of the fundic caecum are siderotic. Their cytoplasm contains abundant siderosomes and ferritin with accumulations of amembranous ferritin bodies in the intracellular canalicular spaces. Prussian blue-positive granules are present in the lumens of fundic glands.

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