Hepcidin, a 25 amino-acid liver hormone, has recently emerged as the key regulator of iron homeostasis. Proteomic studies in limited number of subjects have shown that biological fluids can also contain truncated isoforms, whose role remains to be elucidated. We report, for the first time, data about serum levels of the hepcidin-20 isoform (hep-20) in a general population, taking advantage of the Val Borbera (VB) study where hepcidin-25 (hep-25) was measured by SELDI-TOF-MS. Detectable amount of hep-20 were found in sera from 854 out of 1577 subjects (54.2%), and its levels were about 14% of hep-25 levels. A small fraction of subjects (n = 30, 1.9%) had detectable hep-20 but undetectable hep-25. In multivariate regression models, significant predictors of hep-20 were hep-25 and age in males, and hep-25, age, serum ferritin and body mass index in females. Of note, the hep-25:hep-20 ratio was not constant in the VB population, but increased progressively with increasing ferritin levels. This is not consistent with the simplistic view of hep-20 as a mere catabolic byproduct of hep-25. Although a possible active regulation of hep-20 production needs further confirmation, our results may also have implications for immunoassays for serum hepcidin based on antibodies lacking specificity for hep-25.
This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Integrated omics.
► Hepcidin, a 25 amino acid hormone, is the key regulator of iron metabolism. ► We measured, for the first time, serum hepcidin-20 at population level by SELDI-TOF-MS. ► Detectable amount of hepcidin 20 were found in more than half of 1577 individuals. ► The Hep25:hep20 ratio was not constant but increased with increasing iron stores. ► Our results point toward a possible active regulation of hepcidin-20 production.
BMI, body mass index; CRP, C-reactive protein; Hep-20, Hepcidin-20; Hep-24, Hepcidin-24; Hep-25, Hepcidin-25; PTH, parathyroid hormone; VB, Val Borbera; Iron metabolism; Hepcidin; Ferritin; SELDI-TOF-MS
Iron deficiency (ID) and iron deficiency anemia (IDA) are common nutritional disorders in children. Hepcidin, a peptide hormone produced in the liver, is a central regulator of systemic iron metabolism. We evaluated whether serum hepcidin levels can diagnose ID in children.
Sera from 59 children (23 males and 36 females; 5 months to 17 years) were analyzed for hepcidin-25 by ELISA. Patients were classified according to hemoglobin level and iron parameters as: IDA, (N=17), ID (N=18), and control (N=24).
Serum hepcidin, ferritin, soluble transferrin receptor (sTfR), transferrin saturation, and hemoglobin levels differed significantly between groups (P<0.0001). Serum hepcidin and ferritin levels (mean±SD) were 2.01±2.30 and 7.00±7.86, 7.72±8.03 and 29.35±24.01, 16.71±14.74 and 46.40±43.57 ng/mL in the IDA, ID, and control groups, respectively. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve for serum hepcidin as a predictor of ID was 0.852 (95% CI, 0.755-0.950). Hepcidin ≤6.895 ng/mL had a sensitivity of 79.2% and specificity of 82.8% for the diagnosis of ID. Serum hepcidin levels were significantly correlated with ferritin, transferrin saturation, and hemoglobin levels and significantly negatively correlated with sTfR level and total iron binding capacity (P<0.0001).
Serum hepcidin levels are significantly associated with iron status and can be a useful indicator of ID. Further studies are necessary to validate these findings and determine a reliable cutoff value in children.
Serum hepcidin; Iron deficiency; Children
Hepcidin is a 25-residue peptide hormone crucial to iron homeostasis. It is essential to measure the concentration of hepcidin in cells, tissues and body fluids to understand its mechanisms and roles in physiology and pathophysiology. With a mass of 2791 Da hepcidin is readily detectable by mass spectrometry and LC-ESI, MALDI and SELDI have been used to estimate systemic hepcidin concentrations by analysing serum or urine. However, peak heights in mass spectra may not always reflect concentrations in samples due to competition during binding steps and variations in ionisation efficiency. Thus the purpose of this study was to develop a robust assay for measuring hepcidin using a stable isotope labelled hepcidin spiking approach in conjunction with SELDI-TOF-MS.
We synthesised and re-folded hepcidin labelled with 13C/15N phenylalanine at position 9 to generate an internal standard for mass spectrometry experiments. This labelled hepcidin is 10 Daltons heavier than the endogenous peptides and does not overlap with the isotopic envelope of the endogenous hepcidin or other common peaks in human serum or urine mass spectra and can be distinguished in low resolution mass spectrometers. We report the validation of adding labelled hepcidin into serum followed by SELDI analysis to generate an improved assay for hepcidin.
We demonstrate that without utilising a spiking approach the hepcidin peak height in SELDI spectra gives a good indication of hepcidin concentration. However, a stable isotope labelled hepcidin spiking approach provides a more robust assay, measures the absolute concentration of hepcidin and should facilitate inter-laboratory hepcidin comparisons.
AIM: To investigate whether the iron stores regulator hepcidin is implicated in colon cancer-associated anaemia and whether it might have a role in colorectal carcinogenesis.
METHODS: Mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS and SELDI-TOF MS) was employed to measure hepcidin in urine collected from 56 patients with colorectal cancer. Quantitative Real Time RT-PCR was utilized to determine hepcidin mRNA expression in colorectal cancer tissue. Hepcidin cellular localization was determined using immunohistochemistry.
RESULTS: We demonstrate that whilst urinary hepcidin expression was not correlated with anaemia it was positively associated with increasing T-stage of colorectal cancer (P < 0.05). Furthermore, we report that hepcidin mRNA is expressed in 34% of colorectal cancer tissue specimens and was correlated with ferroportin repression. This was supported by hepcidin immunoreactivity in colorectal cancer tissue.
CONCLUSION: We demonstrate that systemic hepcidin expression is unlikely to be the cause of the systemic anaemia associated with colorectal cancer. However, we demonstrate for the first time that hepcidin is expressed by colorectal cancer tissue and that this may represent a novel oncogenic signalling mechanism.
Iron; Hepcidin; Colon; Cancer; Anaemia; Mass spectrometry
Assays for the detection of the iron regulatory hormone hepcidin in plasma or urine have not yet been widely available, whereas quantitative comparisons between hepcidin levels in these different matrices were thus far even impossible due to technical restrictions. To circumvent these limitations, we here describe several advances in time-of flight mass spectrometry (TOF MS), the most important of which concerned spiking of a synthetic hepcidin analogue as internal standard into serum and urine samples. This serves both as a control for experimental variation, such as recovery and matrix-dependent ionization and ion suppression, and at the same time allows value assignment to the measured hepcidin peak intensities. The assay improvements were clinically evaluated using samples from various patients groups and its relevance was further underscored by the significant correlation of serum hepcidin levels with serum iron indices in healthy individuals. Most importantly, this approach allowed kinetic studies as illustrated by the paired analyses of serum and urine samples, showing that more than 97% of the freely filtered serum hepcidin can be reabsorbed in the kidney. Thus, the here reported advances in TOF MS-based hepcidin measurements represent critical steps in the accurate quantification of hepcidin in various body fluids and pave the way for clinical studies on the kinetic behavior of hepcidin in both healthy and diseased states.
Hepcidin is a regulatory hormone that plays a major role in controlling body iron homeostasis. Circulating factors (holotransferrin, cytokines, erythroid regulators) might variably contribute to hepcidin modulation in different pathological conditions. There are few studies analysing the relationship between hepcidin transcript and related protein expression profiles in humans. Our aims were: a. to measure hepcidin expression at either hepatic, serum and urinary level in three paradigmatic iron overload conditions (hemochromatosis, thalassemia and dysmetabolic iron overload syndrome) and in controls; b. to measure mRNA hepcidin expression in two different hepatic cell lines (HepG2 and Huh-7) exposed to patients and controls sera to assess whether circulating factors could influence hepcidin transcription in different pathological conditions. Our findings suggest that hepcidin assays reflect hepatic hepcidin production, but also indicate that correlation is not ideal, likely due to methodological limits and to several post-trascriptional events. In vitro study showed that THAL sera down-regulated, HFE-HH and C-NAFLD sera up-regulated hepcidin synthesis. HAMP mRNA expression in Huh-7 cells exposed to sera form C-Donors, HFE-HH and THAL reproduced, at lower level, the results observed in HepG2, suggesting the important but not critical role of HFE in hepcidin regulation.
Hepcidin is the key mediator of renal anemia, and reliable measurement of serum hepcidin levels has been made possible by the ProteinChip system. We therefore investigated the iron status and serum hepcidin levels of peritoneal dialysis (PD) patients who had not received frequent doses of an erythrocytosis-stimulating agent (ESA) and had not received iron therapy. In addition to the usual iron parameters, the iron status of erythrocytes can be determined by measuring reticulocyte hemoglobin (RET-He). The mean serum hepcidin level of the PD patients (n = 52) was 80.7 ng/mL. Their serum hepcidin levels were significantly positively correlated with their serum ferritin levels and transferrin saturation (TSAT) levels, but no correlations were found between their serum hepcidin levels and RET-He levels, thereby suggesting that hepcidin has no effect on the iron dynamics of reticulocytes. Since low serum levels of CRP and IL-6, biomarkers of inflammation, were not correlated with the serum hepcidin levels, there is likely to be a threshold for induction of hepcidin expression by inflammation.
Aim of this study was to evaluate whether the A736V TMPRSS6 polymorphism, a major genetic determinant of iron metabolism in healthy subjects, influences serum levels of hepcidin, the hormone regulating iron metabolism, and erythropoiesis in chronic hemodialysis (CHD).
To this end, we considered 199 CHD patients from Northern Italy (157 with hepcidin evaluation), and 188 healthy controls without iron deficiency, matched for age and gender. Genetic polymorphisms were evaluated by allele specific polymerase chain reaction assays, and hepcidin quantified by mass spectrometry.
Serum hepcidin levels were not different between the whole CHD population and controls (median 7.1, interquartile range (IQR) 0.55-17.1 vs. 7.4, 4.5-17.9 nM, respectively), but were higher in the CHD subgroup after exclusion of subjects with relative iron deficiency (p = 0.04). In CHD patients, the A736V TMPRSS6 polymorphism influenced serum hepcidin levels in individuals positive for mutations in the HFE gene of hereditary hemochromatosis (p < 0.0001). In particular, the TMPRSS6 736 V variant was associated with higher hepcidin levels (p = 0.017). At multivariate analysis, HFE and A736V TMPRSS6 genotypes predicted serum hepcidin independently of ferritin and C reactive protein (p = 0.048). In patients without acute inflammation and overt iron deficiency (C reactive protein <1 mg/dl and ferritin >30 ng/ml; n = 86), hepcidin was associated with lower mean corpuscular volume (p = 0.002), suggesting that it contributed to iron-restricted erythropoiesis. In line with previous results, in patients without acute inflammation and severe iron deficiency the “high hepcidin” 736 V TMPRSS6 variant was associated with higher erythropoietin maintenance dose (p = 0.016), independently of subclinical inflammation (p = 0.02).
The A736V TMPRSS6 genotype influences hepcidin levels, erythropoiesis, and anemia management in CHD patients. Evaluation of the effect of TMPRSS6 genotype on clinical outcomes in prospective studies in CHD may be useful to predict the outcomes of hepcidin manipulation, and to guide treatment personalization by optimizing anemia management.
Anemia; Chronic kidney disease; Erythropoietin; Genetics; Inflammation; Iron; Hemodialysis; Hepcidin; Hfe gene; Matriptase-2; Tmprss6
Hepcidin-25, the bioactive form of hepcidin, is a key regulator of iron homeostasis as it induces internalization and degradation of ferroportin, a cellular iron exporter on enterocytes, macrophages and hepatocytes. Hepcidin levels are increased in chronic hemodialysis (HD) patients, but as of yet, limited information on factors associated with hepcidin-25 in these patients is available. In the current cross-sectional study, potential patient-, laboratory- and treatment-related determinants of serum hepcidin-20 and -25, were assessed in a large cohort of stable, prevalent HD patients. Baseline data from 405 patients (62% male; age 63.7±13.9 [mean SD]) enrolled in the CONvective TRAnsport STudy (CONTRAST; NCT00205556) were studied. Predialysis hepcidin concentrations were measured centrally with matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry. Patient-, laboratory- and treatment related characteristics were entered in a backward multivariable linear regression model. Hepcidin-25 levels were independently and positively associated with ferritin (p<0.001), hsCRP (p<0.001) and the presence of diabetes (p = 0.02) and inversely with the estimated glomerular filtration rate (p = 0.01), absolute reticulocyte count (p = 0.02) and soluble transferrin receptor (p<0.001). Men had lower hepcidin-25 levels as compared to women (p = 0.03). Hepcidin-25 was not associated with the maintenance dose of erythropoiesis stimulating agents (ESA) or iron therapy. In conclusion, in the currently studied cohort of chronic HD patients, hepcidin-25 was a marker for iron stores and erythropoiesis and was associated with inflammation. Furthermore, hepcidin-25 levels were influenced by residual kidney function. Hepcidin-25 did not reflect ESA or iron dose in chronic stable HD patients on maintenance therapy. These results suggest that hepcidin is involved in the pathophysiological pathway of renal anemia and iron availability in these patients, but challenges its function as a clinical parameter for ESA resistance.
Mass spectrometry (MS)-based assays for the quantification of the iron regulatory hormone hepcidin are pivotal to discriminate between the bioactive 25-amino acid form that can effectively block the sole iron transporter ferroportin and other naturally occurring smaller isoforms without a known role in iron metabolism. Here we describe the design, validation and use of a novel stable hepcidin-25+40 isotope as internal standard for quantification. Importantly, the relative large mass shift of 40 Da makes this isotope also suitable for easy-to-use medium resolution linear time-of-flight (TOF) platforms. As expected, implementation of hepcidin-25+40 as internal standard in our weak cation exchange (WCX) TOF MS method yielded very low inter/intra run coefficients of variation. Surprisingly, however, in samples from kidney disease patients, we detected a novel peak (m/z 2673.9) with low intensity that could be identified as hepcidin-24 and had previously remained unnoticed due to peak interference with the formerly used internal standard. Using a cell-based bioassay it was shown that synthetic hepcidin-24 was, like the -22 and -20 isoforms, a significantly less potent inducer of ferroportin degradation than hepcidin-25. During prolonged storage of plasma at room temperature, we observed that a decrease in plasma hepcidin-25 was paralleled by an increase in the levels of the hepcidin-24, -22 and -20 isoforms. This provides first evidence that all determinants for the conversion of hepcidin-25 to smaller inactive isoforms are present in the circulation, which may contribute to the functional suppression of hepcidin-25, that is significantly elevated in patients with renal impairment. The present update of our hepcidin TOF MS assay together with improved insights in the source and preparation of the internal standard, and sample stability will further improve our understanding of circulating hepcidin and pave the way towards further optimization and standardization of plasma hepcidin assays.
Low serum hepcidin levels provide a physiologic response to iron demand in patients with iron deficiency (ID). Based on a discovery of suppressed hepcidin expression by a cytokine named growth differentiation factor 15 (GDF15), it was hypothesized that GDF15 may suppress hepcidin expression in humans with ID due to blood loss.
STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS
To test this hypothesis, GDF15 and hepcidin levels were measured in peripheral blood from subjects with iron-deficient erythropoiesis before and after iron supplementation.
Iron variables and hepcidin levels were significantly suppressed in iron-deficient blood donors compared to healthy volunteers. However, ID was not associated with elevated serum levels of GDF15. Instead, iron-deficient subjects’ GDF15 levels were slightly lower than those measured in the control group of subjects (307 ± 90 and 386 ± 104 pg/mL, respectively). Additionally, GDF15 levels were not significantly altered by iron repletion.
ID due to blood loss is not associated with a significant change in serum levels of GDF15.
The mouse is a valuable model for unravelling the role of hepcidin in iron homeostasis, however, such studies still report hepcidin mRNA levels as a surrogate marker for bioactive hepcidin in its pivotal function to block ferroportin-mediated iron transport. Here, we aimed to assess bioactive mouse Hepcidin-1 (Hep-1) and its paralogue Hepcidin-2 (Hep-2) at the peptide level. To this purpose, fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance (FTICR) and tandem-MS was used for hepcidin identification, after which a time-of-flight (TOF) MS-based methodology was exploited to routinely determine Hep-1 and -2 levels in mouse serum and urine. This method was biologically validated by hepcidin assessment in: i) 3 mouse strains (C57Bl/6; DBA/2 and BABL/c) upon stimulation with intravenous iron and LPS, ii) homozygous Hfe knock out, homozygous transferrin receptor 2 (Y245X) mutated mice and double affected mice, and iii) mice treated with a sublethal hepatotoxic dose of paracetamol. The results showed that detection of Hep-1 was restricted to serum, whereas Hep-2 and its presumed isoforms were predominantly present in urine. Elevations in serum Hep-1 and urine Hep-2 upon intravenous iron or LPS were only moderate and varied considerably between mouse strains. Serum Hep-1 was decreased in all three hemochromatosis models, being lowest in the double affected mice. Serum Hep-1 levels correlated with liver hepcidin-1 gene expression, while acute liver damage by paracetamol depleted Hep-1 from serum. Furthermore, serum Hep-1 appeared to be an excellent indicator of splenic iron accumulation. In conclusion, Hep-1 and Hep-2 peptide responses in experimental mouse agree with the known biology of hepcidin mRNA regulators, and their measurement can now be implemented in experimental mouse models to provide novel insights in post-transcriptional regulation, hepcidin function, and kinetics.
Iron overload is the principal cause of morbidity and mortality in β-thalassemia with or without transfusion dependence. Iron homeostasis is regulated by the hepatic peptide hormone hepcidin. Hepcidin controls dietary iron absorption, plasma iron concentrations, and tissue iron distribution. Hepcidin deficiency is the main or contributing factor of iron overload in iron-loading anemias such as β-thalassemia. Hepcidin deficiency results from a strong suppressive effect of the high erythropoietic activity on hepcidin expression. Although in thalassemia major patients iron absorption contributes less to the total iron load than transfusions, in non-transfused thalassemia, low hepcidin and the consequent hyperabsorption of dietary iron is the major cause of systemic iron overload. Hepcidin diagnostics and future therapeutic agonists may help in management of patients with β-thalassemia.
hepcidin; β-thalassemia; iron overload
Hepcidin (HAMP) negatively regulates iron absorption, degrading the iron exporter ferroportin at the level of enterocytes and macrophages. We showed that mice with β-thalassemia intermedia (th3/+) have increased anemia and iron overload. However, their hepcidin expression is relatively low compared to their iron burden. We also showed that the iron metabolism gene Hfe is down-regulated in concert with hepcidin in th3/+ mice. These observations suggest that low hepcidin levels are responsible for abnormal iron absorption in thalassemic mice and that down-regulation of Hfe might be involved in the pathway that controls hepcidin synthesis in β-thalassemia. Therefore, these studies suggest that increasing hepcidin and/or Hfe expression could be a strategy to reduces iron overload in these animals. The goal of this paper is to review recent findings that correlate hepcidin, Hfe, and iron metabolism in β-thalassemia and to discuss potential novel therapeutic approaches based on these recent discoveries.
β-thalassemia; iron overload; hepcidin; Hfe; lentiviral vectors
Hepcidin is the master regulator of iron homeostasis. In the liver, iron-dependent hepcidin activation is regulated through Bmp6 and its membrane receptor hemojuvelin (Hjv) whereas, in response to iron deficiency, hepcidin repression seems to be controlled by a pathway involving the serine protease matriptase-2 (encoded by Tmprss6). To determine the relationship between Bmp6 and matriptase-2 pathways, Tmprss6−/− mice (characterized by increased hepcidin levels and anemia) and Bmp6−/− mice (exhibiting severe iron overload due to hepcidin deficiency) were intercrossed. We showed that loss of Bmp6 decreased hepcidin levels, increased hepatic iron and, importantly, corrected hematological abnormalities in Tmprss6−/− mice. This suggests that elevated hepcidin levels in patients with familial iron-refractory iron deficiency anemia are due to excess signaling through the Bmp6/Hjv pathway.
Anemia, Iron-Deficiency; metabolism; Animals; Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides; metabolism; Bone Morphogenetic Protein 6; metabolism; Female; Iron; metabolism; Iron, Dietary; metabolism; Liver; metabolism; Membrane Proteins; metabolism; Mice; Mice, Knockout; Serine Endopeptidases; metabolism; Signal Transduction; physiology; hepcidin; hemojuvelin; bmp6; matriptase2; tmprss6
Introduction. Anemia is a frequent problem in hospitalized geriatric patients, and the anemia of chronic disease (ACD) and iron deficiency anemia (IDA) are the 2 most prevalent causes. The aim of the study was to assess the possible role of serum hepcidin in the differential diagnosis between ACD and IDA. Methods. We investigated serum hepcidin, iron status, anemia, and C-reactive protein in 39 consecutive geriatric patients with ACD and IDA. Serum hepcidin levels were determined using a commercial ELISA kit (DRG Instruments, Marburg, Germany). We also measured hepcidin in 26 healthy controls. Results. The serum hepcidin levels were not significantly higher in the 28 patients with ACD as compared to the 11 patients with IDA. Conclusions. The serum hepcidin levels measured using the commercial ELISA kit (DRG) do not appear to increase in older patients with ACD. It should be noted that an assay-specific problem could explain our results.
The aim of this study was to analyze the relationship between serum pro-hepcidin concentration and the anemia profiles of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and to estimate the pro-hepcidin could reflect the disease activity of RA. RA disease activities were measured using Disease Activity Score 28 (DAS28), tender/swollen joint counts, erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), and C-reactive protein (CRP). Anemia profiles such as hemoglobin, iron, total iron binding capacity (TIBC), ferritin, and transferrin levels were measured. Serum concentration of pro-hepcidin, the prohormone of hepcidin, was measured using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Mean concentration of serum pro-hepcidin was 237.6±67.9 ng/mL in 40 RA patients. The pro-hepcidin concentration was correlated with rheumatoid factor, CRP, ESR, and DAS28. There was a significant correlation between pro-hepcidin with tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, interleukin (IL)-1β, and IL-6. The pro-hepcidin concentration was significantly higher in the patients with active RA (DAS28>5.1) than those with inactive to moderate RA (DAS28≤5.1). However, the pro-hepcidin concentration did not correlate with the anemia profiles except hemoglobin level. There was no difference of pro-hepcidin concentration between the patients with anemia of chronic disease and those without. In conclusion, serum concentration of pro-hepcidin reflects the disease activity, regardless of the anemia states in RA patients, thus it may be another potential marker for disease activity of RA.
Arthritis, Rheumatoid; Anemia; Hepcidin; Prohepcidin
Hepcidin is upregulated by inflammation and iron. Inherited (HFE genotype) and treatment-related factors (blood units (BU), Iron overload) affecting hepcidin (measured by C-ELISA) were studied in 42 consecutive patients with AML prior to and after allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT). Results. Elevated serum ferritin pre- and post-HCT was present in all patients. Median hepcidin pre- and post-HCT of 358 and 398 ng/mL, respectively, were elevated compared to controls (median 52 ng/mL) (P < .0001). Liver and renal function, prior chemotherapies, and conditioning had no impact on hepcidin. Despite higher total BU after HCT compared to pretransplantation (P < .0005), pre- and posttransplant ferritin and hepcidin were similar. BU influenced ferritin (P = .001) and hepcidin (P = .001). No correlation of pre- or posttransplant hepcidin with pretransplant ferritin was found. HFE genotype did not influence hepcidin. Conclusions. Hepcidin is elevated in AML patients pre- and post-HCT due to transfusional iron-loading suggesting that hepcidin synthesis remains intact despite chemotherapy and HCT.
Hepcidin is classified as a type II acute phase protein; its production is a component of the innate immune response to infections.
To evaluate the alterations of serum hepcidin in children during and following an acute febrile infection.
Materials and methods
22 children with fever of acute onset (< 6 hours) admitted to the 2nd Department of Pediatrics-University of Athens. Based on clinical and laboratory findings our sample formed two groups: the viral infection group (13 children) and the bacterial infection group (9 children). Hepcidin, ferritin and serum iron measurements were performed in all subjects.
Serum hepcidin values did not differ notably between children with viral and bacterial infection, but a significant reduction of hepcidin was noted in both groups post-infection.
Our study provides clinical pediatric data on the role of hepcidin in the face of an acute infection. In our sample of children, hepcidin was found to rise during the acute infection and fall post-infection.
Hepcidin; Acute infection; Children; Marker
Hepcidin is an antimicrobial peptide, which also negatively regulates iron in circulation by controlling iron absorption from dietary sources and iron release from macrophages. Hepcidin is synthesized mainly in the liver, where hepcidin is regulated by iron loading, inflammation and hypoxia. Recently, we have demonstrated that bone morphogenetic protein (BMP)-hemojuvelin (HJV)-SMAD signaling is central for hepcidin regulation in hepatocytes. Hepcidin is also expressed by macrophages. Studies have shown that hepcidin expression by macrophages increases following bacterial infection, and that hepcidin decreases iron release from macrophages in an autocrine and/or paracrine manner. Although previous studies have shown that lipopolysaccharide (LPS) can induce hepcidin expression in macrophages, whether hepcidin is also regulated by BMPs in macrophages is still unknown. Therefore, we examined the effects of BMP signaling on hepcidin expression in RAW 264.7 and J774 macrophage cell lines, and in primary peritoneal macrophages. We found that BMP4 or BMP6 alone did not have any effect on hepcidin expression in macrophages although they stimulated Smad1/5/8 phosphorylation and Id1 expression. In the presence of LPS, however, BMP4 and BMP6 were able to stimulate hepcidin expression in macrophages, and this stimulation was abolished by the NF-κB inhibitor Ro1069920. These results suggest that hepcidin expression is regulated differently in macrophages than in hepatocytes, and that BMPs regulate hepcidin expression in macrophages in a LPS-NF-κB dependent manner.
Hepcidin regulation by competing stimuli such as infection and iron deficiency has not been studied in infants and it’s yet unknown whether hepcidin regulatory pathways are fully functional in infants. In this cross-sectional study including 339 Kenyan infants aged 6.0±1.1 months (mean±SD), we assessed serum hepcidin-25, biomarkers of iron status and inflammation, and fecal calprotectin. Prevalence of inflammation, anemia, and iron deficiency was 31%, 71%, 26%, respectively. Geometric mean (±SD) serum hepcidin was 6.0 (±3.4) ng/mL, and was significantly lower in males than females. Inflammation (C-reactive protein and interleukin-6) and iron status (serum ferritin, zinc protoporphyrin and soluble transferrin receptor) were significant predictors of serum hepcidin, explaining nearly 60% of its variance. There were small, but significant differences in serum hepcidin comparing iron deficient anemic (IDA) infants without inflammation to iron-deficient anemic infants with inflammation (1.2 (±4.9) vs. 3.4 (±4.9) ng/mL; P<0.001). Fecal calprotectin correlated with blood/mucus in the stool but not with hepcidin. Similarly, the gut-linked cytokines IL-12 and IL-17 did not correlate with hepcidin. We conclude that hepcidin regulatory pathways are already functional in infancy, but serum hepcidin alone may not clearly discriminate between iron-deficient anemic infants with and without infection. We propose gender-specific reference values for serum hepcidin in iron-replete infants without inflammation.
Patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC) often have increased liver iron, a condition associated with reduced sustained response to antiviral therapy, more rapid progression to cirrhosis, and development of hepatocellular carcinoma. The hepatic hormone hepcidin is the major regulator of iron metabolism and inhibits iron absorption and recycling from erythrophagocytosis. Hepcidin decrease is a possible pathophysiological mechanism of iron overload in CHC, but studies in humans have been hampered so far by the lack of reliable quantitative assays for the 25-amino acid bioactive peptide in serum (s-hepcidin).
Using a recently validated immunoassay, we measured s-hepcidin levels in 81 untreated CHC patients and 57 controls with rigorous definition of normal iron status. All CHC patients underwent liver biopsy with histological iron score.
S-hepcidin was significantly lower in CHC patients than in controls (geometric means with 95% confidence intervals: 33.7, 21.5–52.9 vs. 90.9, 76.1–108.4 ng/mL, respectively; p < 0.001). In CHC patients, s-hepcidin significantly correlated with serum ferritin and histological total iron score, but not with s-interleukin-6. After stratification for ferritin quartiles, s-hepcidin increased significantly across quartiles in both controls and CHC patients (chi for trend, p < 0.001). However, in CHC patients, s-hepcidin was significantly lower than in controls for each corresponding quartile (analysis of variance, p < 0.001).
These results, together with very recent studies in animal and cellular models, indicate that although hepcidin regulation by iron stores is maintained in CHC, the suppression of this hormone by hepatitis C virus is likely an important factor in liver iron accumulation in this condition.
Chronic hepatitis C; Hemochromatosis; Hepcidin; Iron overload; Ferritin
Background and Aims
Mutations in HFE are the most common cause of the iron-overload disorder hereditary hemochromatosis (HH). Levels of the main iron regulatory hormone, hepcidin, are inappropriately low in HH mouse models and patients with HFE mutations, indicating that HFE regulates hepcidin. The bone morphogenetic protein 6 (BMP6)-SMAD signaling pathway is an important endogenous regulator of hepcidin expression. We investigated whether HFE is involved in BMP6-SMAD regulation of hepcidin expression.
The BMP6-SMAD pathway was examined in Hfe knockout (KO) mice and in wild-type (WT) mice as controls. Mice were placed on diets of varying iron content. Hepcidin induction by BMP6 was examined in primary hepatocytes from Hfe KO mice; data were compared with those of WT mice.
Liver levels of Bmp6 mRNA were higher in Hfe KO mice; these were appropriate for the increased hepatic levels of iron in these mice, compared with WT mice. However, levels of hepatic phosphorylated Smad 1/5/8 protein (an intracellular mediator of Bmp6 signaling) and Id1 mRNA (a target gene of Bmp6) were inappropriately low for the body iron burden and Bmp6 mRNA levels in Hfe KO, compared with WT mice. BMP6 induction of hepcidin expression was reduced in Hfe KO hepatocytes compared with WT hepatocytes.
HFE is not involved in regulation of BMP6 by iron, but does regulate the downstream signals of BMP6 that are triggered by iron.
The present study evaluated the expression of hepcidin mRNA in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
Samples of cancerous and non-cancerous liver tissue were taken from 40 patients with HCC who underwent hepatectomy. Expression of hepcidin mRNA was evaluated by real-time PCR, and compared in tumors differing in their degree of differentiation, number of tumors, and vessel invasion. Correlations between hepcidin expression and the interval until HCC recurrence, and the serum concentration of hepcidin were evaluated, together with the expression of mRNAs for other iron metabolism molecules, ferroportin and transferrin receptor 2 (Trf2).
Hepcidin mRNA expression in non-cancerous and cancerous tissues was 1891.8 (32.3–23187.4) and 53.4 (1.9–3185.8), respectively (P < 0.0001). There were no significant differences in hepcidin expression among tumors differing in their degree of differentiation, number of tumors, or vessel invasion. There was no significant correlation between hepcidin expression and the interval until HCC recurrence. The serum concentration of hepcidin-25 was not correlated with hepcidin-mRNA expression. Finally, there were no significant differences in the expression of mRNA for ferroportin and Trf2 between cancerous and non-cancerous tissues.
Expression of hepcidin mRNA is strikingly suppressed in cancerous, but not in non-cancerous tissues, in patients with HCC, irrespective of ferroportin or Trf2 expression. Uniform suppression of hepcidin may be linked to the development of HCC.
Hepcidin is a central regulator of iron metabolism. Serum hepcidin levels are increased in patients with renal insufficiency, which may contribute to anemia. Urine hepcidin was found to be increased in some patients after cardiac surgery, and these patients were less likely to develop acute kidney injury. It has been suggested that urine hepcidin may protect by attenuating heme-mediated injury, but processes involved in urine hepcidin excretion are unknown.
To assess the role of tubular reabsorption we compared fractional excretion (FE) of hepcidin-25 with FE of β2-microglobulin (β2m) in 30 patients with various degrees of tubular impairment due to chronic renal disease. To prove that hepcidin is reabsorbed by the tubules in a megalin-dependent manner, we measured urine hepcidin-1 in wild-type and kidney specific megalin-deficient mice. Lastly, we evaluated FE of hepcidin-25 and β2m in 19 patients who underwent cardiopulmonary bypass surgery. Hepcidin was measured by a mass spectrometry assay (MS), whereas β2m was measured by ELISA.
In patients with chronic renal disease, FE of hepcidin-25 was strongly correlated with FE of β2m (r = 0.93, P <0.01). In megalin-deficient mice, urine hepcidin-1 was 7-fold increased compared to wild-type mice (p < 0.01) indicating that proximal tubular reabsorption occurs in a megalin- dependent manner. Following cardiac surgery, FE of hepcidin-25 increased despite a decline in FE of β2m, potentially indicating local production at 12–24 hours.
Hepcidin-25 is reabsorbed by the renal tubules and increased urine hepcidin-25 levels may reflect a reduction in tubular uptake. Uncoupling of FE of hepcidin-25 and β2m in cardiac surgery patients suggests local production.
AKI; β2-microglobulin; Hepcidin; Megalin; Kidney tubules