European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) were fed an iron loading diet (3235 ppm) for 31 days to induce nonheme liver iron concentrations approaching those in birds that died with iron storage disease. All birds then were fed a low-iron diet (32–48 ppm) and assigned to 4 treatment groups: 1) low-iron diet only, 2) low-iron diet with phytate (inositol) and tannic acid, 3) low-iron diet and deferoxamine (100 mg/kg SC q24h), and 4) low-iron diet and phlebotomy (1% of body weight q7d). Starlings were treated for 16 weeks. In the groups treated with phlebotomy or with deferoxamine and a low-iron diet, nonheme liver iron concentrations decreased to safe levels after 16 weeks of treatment at similar rates (190 ppm/wk and 163 ppm/wk, respectively). The low-iron diet alone reduced stored liver iron levels at a slower rate (45 ppm/wk). The addition of inositol and tannic acid to the low-iron diet had no impact on stored liver iron concentrations. These results suggest that both phlebotomy and treatment with deferoxamine are effective treatment options for birds with iron storage disease.
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Vol. 20 • No. 2