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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: The Usefulness of Invitro Models to Predict the Bioavailability of Iron and Zinc: a Consensus Statement from the Harvestplus Expert Consultation

item Fairweather-Tait, Sue - INST FOOD RES, UK
item Lynch, Sean - EASTERN VA MED SCH
item Hotz, Christine - NAT INST PUB HLTH, MX
item Hurrell, Richard - INST FOOD SCI NUTR, SZ
item Abrahamse, Leo - UNILEVER HLTH INST, NL
item Beebe, Steve - CIAT, CO
item Bering, Stine - DEPT HUM NUTR, DA
item Bukhave, Klaus - DEPT HUM NUTR, DA
item Glahn, Raymond
item Hambidge, Michael - UNIV OF COLORADO
item Hunt, Janet
item Lonnerdal, Bo - UNIV OF CALIFORNIA
item Miller, Denis - CORNELL UNIVERSITY
item Mohktar, Najat - INTER ATOMIC ENER AG, AU
item Nestel, Penelope - HARVESTPLUS, NL
item Sandberg, Ann-Sofie - CHALMERS UNIV OF TECH, SW
item Sharp, Paul - KING'S COLLEGE, UK
item Teucher, Birgit - INST FOOD RES, UK
item Trinidad, Trinidad - FOOD & NUTR RES INST, RP

Submitted to: International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: May 12, 2005
Publication Date: November 1, 2005
Repository URL:
Citation: Fairweather-Tait, S., Lynch, Sean, Hunt, J.R., et al. 2005. The usefulness of in vitro models to predict the bioavailability of iron and zinc: a consensus statement from the HarvestPlus expert consultation. International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research.75(6):371-374.

Technical Abstract: A combination of dietary and host-related factors determines iron and zinc absorption, and several in vitro methods have been developed as preliminary screening tools for assessing bioavailability. An expert committee has reviewed evidence for their usefulness and reached a consensus. Dialyzability (with and without simulated digestion) gives some useful information but cannot predict the correct magnitude of response and may sometimes predict the wrong direction of response. Caco-2 cell systems (with and without simulated digestion) have been developed for iron availability, but the magnitude of different effects does not always agree with results obtained in human volunteers, and the data for zinc are too limited to drew conclusions about the validity of the method. Caco-2 methodologies vary significantly between laboratories and require experienced technicians and good quality cell culture facilities to obtain reproducible results. Algorithms can provide semi-quantitative information enabling diets to be classified as high, moderate, or low bioavailability. While in vitro methods can be used to generate ideas and develop hypotheses, they cannot be used alone for important decisions concerning food fortification policy, selection of varieties for plant breeding programs or for new product development in the food industry. Ultimately human studies are required for such determination.

Last Modified: 5/5/2015