Plant lectins have been thought to impair nutrient absorption, both by specific and nonspecific interference in the absorptive process. The main objective of this investigation was to study the effect of lectins on the various binding reactions involving cobalamin (cbl)-protein complexes and their receptors, and to identify the rate-limiting step important in maintaining tissue levels of cobalamin. Among the lectins tested in vivo, only concanavalin A (ConA) was able to inhibit the transport of cobalamin to the tissues and caused a 70% to 75% inhibition of [57Co] cobalamin transported to the liver and kidney. The inhibition of transport to the tissues was independent of route of administration of cobalamin, whether intragastric or systemic, and was not due to decreased gastrointestinal uptake. When tested in vitro, concanavalin A inhibited the binding of transcobalamin II-cbl to its receptor, but not the binding of cobalamin to intrinsic factor or intrinsic factor-cobalamin complex to the ileal receptor. These results suggest that late events during transcellular transport of cobalamin through the enterocytes is the rate-limiting step determining tissue levels of cobalamin and that ConA inhibits these latter events.
- concanavalin A