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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 53  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 339--340

Iron nanoparticles and its potential application: A literature review

Pradip Kumar Saha1, Lekha Saha2,  
1 Department of Obstretrics and Gynaecology, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India
2 Department of Pharmacology, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Lekha Saha
Department of Pharmacology, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh - 160 012

How to cite this article:
Saha PK, Saha L. Iron nanoparticles and its potential application: A literature review.Indian J Pharmacol 2021;53:339-340

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Saha PK, Saha L. Iron nanoparticles and its potential application: A literature review. Indian J Pharmacol [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 Jun 30 ];53:339-340
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Iron deficiency anemia (IDA) is one of the most frequent nutritional anemias in the globe.[1] Conventional iron preparations such as ferrous and ferric irons are associated with their inherent limitations such as gastrointestinal side effects.[2] To overcome these, various delayed and enteric-coated iron supplementations have been developed, but they are associated with low bioavailability of iron. Encapsulation of iron in a nanostructure may be an alternative approach to ensure the safe delivery of iron without having any adverse effects. This new formulation of iron also associated with enhanced bioavailability as there is increased absorption due to the smaller particle size of the nano formulation.

Various oral iron nanoparticle preparations were prepared to correct IDA with better efficiency and lesser side effects as compared to conventional iron salts. Iron oxide nanoparticles (FeNPs) have been used to develop iron nanoparticles. The iron nanoparticle formulations studied are chitosan-coated FeNPs, folic acid-coated FeNPs, iron hydroxide adipate tartrate, etc. Regarding the nanotoxicity of FeNPs, a study by Zang L et al. shows that there is no significant toxicity at cellular and gene level.[3]

Experimental studies in the cellular and animal models demonstrated no undesirable effects of iron oxo-hydroxide nanomaterial on cells, intestinal mucosa, and fecal microbiota. Studies on menopausal female participants utilizing various ligand modified iron oxo hydroxide nanoparticles revealed that they had greater bioavailability and were 80% as efficient in terms of absorption as ferrous sulfate. Iron nanoparticles delivery for 2 weeks in the rat resulted in no structural or physiological alterations, as well as no aberrant iron accumulation. Hence, studies have demonstrated the safety and efficacy of iron nanoformulations and also demonstrated better safety and efficacy profile as compared to most available conventional iron salts.

Solid lipid nanoparticles of iron (ferrous sulfate) were studied by various researchers in both in vitro cell lines and in vivo animal models of IDA and found to have no cytotoxic effects and good bioavailability of iron. Another magnetite (Fe3O4) nanoparticles with Vitamin C were developed. Experimental studies in rats with this magnetite iron nanoparticles showed that this Vitamin C capped nanoparticles stimulated erythropoiesi. In in vivo rat model of anemia, this nanoiron formulation was able to correct anemia faster and more efficiently than most commercially available iron preparations, and the side effects were also minimal.[4]

Thus, it is very clear from the various in vitro and in vivo experimental studies that the delivery of iron through nanoparticles not only corrects the anemia more efficiently but are associated with lesser side effects related to gastrointestinal tract as compared to conventional iron salts. Since there is a difference between human and animal with respect to anatomy and physiology, there is a need of human studies before they are available as a therapeutic agent.

Although the potential of nano iron preparations for the correction of IDA is remarkable, there are some challenges that need to be looked for. One of the most important challenges is the fate of the nanoparticles in the body. For this reason, it is very demanding to develop a nanobased iron preparation as there is limited information pertaining to it. Another important challenge is the extrapolation of the results obtained in the rodents to the human as physiology of the human body is not same as the animals. This leads to the failure of the drug to develop as a therapeutic agent or might result in untoward side effects. At the same time, determining the correct dose of iron, which is critical for a body-tolerable therapeutic effect, is difficult. The successful transport of nano iron through compartmental barriers such as endothelium, vascular epithelium, intestinal walls, and the placenta is also a difficulty. To build a successful, barrier-resistant drug, a full understanding of the interaction of nano drugs with various barriers is required.[5]

To conclude, there is a need to develop a low-cost, safer nanoiron formulation to treat IDA, which is quite common in underdeveloped and developing countries. Nanotechnology's advantages and benefits must be fully utilized for the benefit of humanity.

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2Saha L, Pandhi P, Gopalan S, Malhotra S, Saha PK. Comparison of efficacy, tolerability, and cost of iron polymaltose complex with ferrous sulphate in the treatment of iron deficiency anemia in pregnant women. MedGenMed 2007;9:1.
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4Salah ED, Bakr MM, Kamel HM, Inventors; Innovative Research and Development Co. (Inrad), Assignee, et al. Magnetite Nanoparticles as a Single Dose Treatment for Iron Deficiency Anemia. Google Patents; 2010. Available from: [cited 2020 July 13].
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