One of the causes of anaemia in rheumatoid arthritis is thought to be defective iron absorption. In this study the 59Fe absorption in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis is measured and correlated with the results for bone marrow iron stores (and in some cases with the iron stores in the terminal duodenum), which were assessed simultaneously with semiquantitative methods, and with the serum ferritin concentration. In 11 patients with rheumatoid arthritis and increased bone marrow iron stores, iron absorption was decreased. In five patients it was normal and in three further patients, whose bone marrow iron stores were depleted, iron absorption was maximally increased. According to the results both intestinal malabsorption and defective iron absorption can be excluded as causes.
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