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1.  HEPCIDIN AND IRON HOMEOSTASIS 
Biochimica et biophysica acta  2012;1823(9):1434-1443.
Despite fluctuations in dietary iron intake and intermittent losses through bleeding, the plasma iron concentrations in humans remain stable at 10–30 μM. While most of the iron entering blood plasma comes from recycling, appropriate amount of iron is absorbed from the diet to compensate for losses and maintain nontoxic amounts in stores. Plasma iron concentration and iron distribution are similarly regulated in laboratory rodents. The hepatic peptide hepcidin was identified as the systemic iron-regulatory hormone. In the efferent arc, hepcidin regulates intestinal iron absorption, plasma iron concentrations, and tissue iron distribution by inducing degradation of its receptor, the cellular iron exporter ferroportin. Ferroportin exports iron into plasma from absorptive enterocytes, from macrophages that recycle the iron of senescent erythrocytes, and from hepatocytes that store iron. In the more complex and less well understood afferent arc, hepatic hepcidin synthesis is transcriptionally regulated by extracellular and intracellular iron concentrations through a molecular complex of bone morphogenetic protein receptors and their iron-specific ligands, modulators and iron sensors. Through as yet undefined pathways, hepcidin is also homeostatically regulated by the iron requirements of erythroid precursors for hemoglobin synthesis. In accordance with the role of hepcidin-mediated iron redistribution in host defense, hepcidin production is regulated by inflammation as well. Increased hepcidin concentrations in plasma are pathogenic in iron-restrictive anemias including anemias associated with inflammation, chronic kidney disease and some cancers. Hepcidin deficiency causes iron overload in hereditary hemochromatosis and ineffective erythropoiesis. Hepcidin, ferroportin and their regulators represent potential targets for the diagnosis and treatment of iron disorders and anemias.
doi:10.1016/j.bbamcr.2012.01.014
PMCID: PMC4048856  PMID: 22306005
Iron overload; iron deficiency; anemia
2.  Distinct requirements for Hfe in basal and induced hepcidin levels in iron overload and inflammation 
Hepcidin is a negative regulator of iron absorption produced mainly by the liver in response to changes in iron stores and inflammation, and its levels have been shown to regulate the intestinal basolateral iron transporter ferroportin1 (Fp1). Hereditary hemochromatosis patients and Hfe-deficient mice show inappropriate expression of hepcidin but, in apparent contradiction, still retain the ability to regulate iron absorption in response to alterations of iron metabolism. To further understand the molecular relationships among Hfe, hepcidin, and Fp1, we investigated hepcidin and Fp1 regulation in Hfe-deficient mice (Hfe−/− and β2m−/−) in response to iron deprivation, iron loading, and acute inflammation. We found that whereas basal hepcidin levels were manifestly dependent on the presence of Hfe and on the mouse background, all Hfe-deficient mice were still able to regulate hepcidin in situations of altered iron homeostasis. In the liver, Fp1 was modulated in opposite directions by iron and LPS, and its regulation in Hfe-deficient mice was similar to that observed in wild-type mice. In addition, we found that iron-deprived mice were able to mount a robust response after LPS challenge and that Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR-4)-deficient mice fail to regulate hepcidin expression in response to LPS. In conclusion, these results suggest that although Hfe is necessary for the establishment of hepcidin basal levels, it is dispensable for hepcidin regulation through both the iron-sensing and inflammatory pathways, and hepatic Fp1 regulation is largely independent of hepcidin and Hfe. The inflammatory pathway overrides the iron-sensing pathway and is TLR-4 dependent.
doi:10.1152/ajpgi.00092.2006
PMCID: PMC2891007  PMID: 16565419 CAMSID: cams1056
ferroportin 1; Toll-like receptor 4; β2m; hereditary hemochromatosis; lipopolysaccharide
3.  Hepcidin antagonists for potential treatments of disorders with hepcidin excess 
The discovery of hepcidin clarified the basic mechanism of the control of systemic iron homeostasis. Hepcidin is mainly produced by the liver as a propeptide and processed by furin into the mature active peptide. Hepcidin binds ferroportin, the only cellular iron exporter, causing the internalization and degradation of both. Thus hepcidin blocks iron export from the key cells for dietary iron absorption (enterocytes), recycling of hemoglobin iron (the macrophages) and the release of storage iron from hepatocytes, resulting in the reduction of systemic iron availability. The BMP/HJV/SMAD pathway is the major regulator of hepcidin expression that responds to iron status. Also inflammation stimulates hepcidin via the IL6/STAT3 pathway with a support of an active BMP/HJV/SMAD pathway. In some pathological conditions hepcidin level is inadequately elevated and reduces iron availability in the body, resulting in anemia. These conditions occur in the genetic iron refractory iron deficiency anemia and the common anemia of chronic disease (ACD) or anemia of inflammation. Currently, there is no definite treatment for ACD. Erythropoiesis-stimulating agents and intravenous iron have been proposed in some cases but they are scarcely effective and may have adverse effects. Alternative approaches aimed to a pharmacological control of hepcidin expression have been attempted, targeting different regulatory steps. They include hepcidin sequestering agents (antibodies, anticalins, and aptamers), inhibitors of BMP/SMAD or of IL6/STAT3 pathway or of hepcidin transduction (siRNA/shRNA) or ferroportin stabilizers. In this review we summarized the biochemical interactions of the proteins involved in the BMP/HJV/SMAD pathway and its natural inhibitors, the murine and rat models with high hepcidin levels currently available and finally the progresses in the development of hepcidin antagonists, with particular attention to the role of heparins and heparin sulfate proteoglycans in hepcidin expression and modulation of the BMP6/SMAD pathway.
doi:10.3389/fphar.2014.00086
PMCID: PMC4009444  PMID: 24808863
hepcidin; heparin; anemia of chronic diseases; inflammation; iron metabolism
4.  Minihepcidins are rationally designed small peptides that mimic hepcidin activity in mice and may be useful for the treatment of iron overload 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2011;121(12):4880-4888.
Iron overload is the hallmark of hereditary hemochromatosis and a complication of iron-loading anemias such as β-thalassemia. Treatment can be burdensome and have significant side effects, and new therapeutic options are needed. Iron overload in hereditary hemochromatosis and β-thalassemia intermedia is caused by hepcidin deficiency. Although transgenic hepcidin replacement in mouse models of these diseases prevents iron overload or decreases its potential toxicity, natural hepcidin is prohibitively expensive for human application and has unfavorable pharmacologic properties. Here, we report the rational design of hepcidin agonists based on the mutagenesis of hepcidin and the hepcidin-binding region of ferroportin and computer modeling of their docking. We identified specific hydrophobic/aromatic residues required for hepcidin-ferroportin binding and obtained evidence in vitro that a thiol-disulfide interaction between ferroportin C326 and the hepcidin disulfide cage may stabilize binding. Guided by this model, we showed that 7–9 N-terminal amino acids of hepcidin, including a single thiol cysteine, comprised the minimal structure that retained hepcidin activity, as shown by the induction of ferroportin degradation in reporter cells. Further modifications to increase resistance to proteolysis and oral bioavailability yielded minihepcidins that, after parenteral or oral administration to mice, lowered serum iron levels comparably to those after parenteral native hepcidin. Moreover, liver iron concentrations were lower in mice chronically treated with minihepcidins than those in mice treated with solvent alone. Minihepcidins may be useful for the treatment of iron overload disorders.
doi:10.1172/JCI57693
PMCID: PMC3225996  PMID: 22045566
5.  Iron regulation by hepcidin 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2013;123(6):2337-2343.
Hepcidin is a key hormone that is involved in the control of iron homeostasis in the body. Physiologically, hepcidin is controlled by iron stores, inflammation, hypoxia, and erythropoiesis. The regulation of hepcidin expression by iron is a complex process that requires the coordination of multiple proteins, including hemojuvelin, bone morphogenetic protein 6 (BMP6), hereditary hemochromatosis protein, transferrin receptor 2, matriptase-2, neogenin, BMP receptors, and transferrin. Misregulation of hepcidin is found in many disease states, such as the anemia of chronic disease, iron refractory iron deficiency anemia, cancer, hereditary hemochromatosis, and ineffective erythropoiesis, such as β-thalassemia. Thus, the regulation of hepcidin is the subject of interest for the amelioration of the detrimental effects of either iron deficiency or overload.
doi:10.1172/JCI67225
PMCID: PMC3668831  PMID: 23722909
6.  Targeting the Hepcidin-Ferroportin Axis in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Anemias 
Advances in Hematology  2009;2010:750643.
The hepatic peptide hormone hepcidin regulates dietary iron absorption, plasma iron concentrations, and tissue iron distribution. Hepcidin acts by causing the degradation of its receptor, the cellular iron exporter ferroportin. The loss of ferroportin decreases iron flow into plasma from absorptive enterocytes, from macrophages that recycle the iron of senescent erythrocytes, and from hepatocytes that store iron, thereby lowering plasma iron concentrations. Malfunctions of the hepcidin-ferroportin axis contribute to the pathogenesis of different anemias. Deficient production of hepcidin causes systemic iron overload in iron-loading anemias such as beta-thalassemia; whereas hepcidin excess contributes to the development of anemia in inflammatory disorders and chronic kidney disease, and may cause erythropoietin resistance. The diagnosis of different forms of anemia will be facilitated by improved hepcidin assays, and the treatment will be enhanced by the development of hepcidin agonists and antagonists.
doi:10.1155/2010/750643
PMCID: PMC2798567  PMID: 20066043
7.  Hepcidin in β-thalassemia 
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.
doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.2010.05585.x
PMCID: PMC2924878  PMID: 20712769
hepcidin; β-thalassemia; iron overload
8.  A Novel Immunological Assay for Hepcidin Quantification in Human Serum 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(2):e4581.
Background
Hepcidin is a 25-aminoacid cysteine-rich iron regulating peptide. Increased hepcidin concentrations lead to iron sequestration in macrophages, contributing to the pathogenesis of anaemia of chronic disease whereas decreased hepcidin is observed in iron deficiency and primary iron overload diseases such as hereditary hemochromatosis. Hepcidin quantification in human blood or urine may provide further insights for the pathogenesis of disorders of iron homeostasis and might prove a valuable tool for clinicians for the differential diagnosis of anaemia. This study describes a specific and non-operator demanding immunoassay for hepcidin quantification in human sera.
Methods and Findings
An ELISA assay was developed for measuring hepcidin serum concentration using a recombinant hepcidin25-His peptide and a polyclonal antibody against this peptide, which was able to identify native hepcidin. The ELISA assay had a detection range of 10–1500 µg/L and a detection limit of 5.4 µg/L. The intra- and interassay coefficients of variance ranged from 8–15% and 5–16%, respectively. Mean linearity and recovery were 101% and 107%, respectively. Mean hepcidin levels were significantly lower in 7 patients with juvenile hemochromatosis (12.8 µg/L) and 10 patients with iron deficiency anemia (15.7 µg/L) and higher in 7 patients with Hodgkin lymphoma (116.7 µg/L) compared to 32 age-matched healthy controls (42.7 µg/L).
Conclusions
We describe a new simple ELISA assay for measuring hepcidin in human serum with sufficient accuracy and reproducibility.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0004581
PMCID: PMC2640459  PMID: 19238200
9.  BMP6 treatment compensates for the molecular defect and ameliorates hemochromatosis in Hfe knockout mice 
Gastroenterology  2010;139(5):1721-1729.
BACKGROUND AND AIMS
Abnormal hepcidin regulation is central to the pathogenesis of HFE hemochromatosis. Hepatic bone morphogenetic protein 6 (BMP6)-SMAD signaling is a main regulatory mechanism controlling hepcidin expression, and this pathway was recently demonstrated to be impaired in Hfe knockout (Hfe−/−) mice. To more definitively determine whether HFE regulates hepcidin expression through an interaction with the BMP6-SMAD signaling pathway, we investigated whether hepatic Hfe overexpression activates the BMP6-SMAD pathway to induce hepcidin expression. We then investigated whether excess exogenous BMP6 administration overcomes the BMP6-SMAD signaling impairment and ameliorates hemochromatosis in Hfe−/− mice.
METHODS
The BMP6-SMAD pathway and the effects of neutralizing BMP6 antibody were examined in Hfe transgenic mice (Hfe Tg) compared with wildtype (WT) mice. Hfe−/− and WT mice were treated with exogenous BMP6 and analyzed for hepcidin expression and iron parameters.
RESULTS
Hfe Tg mice exhibited hepcidin excess and iron deficiency anemia. Hfe Tg mice also exhibited increased hepatic BMP6-SMAD target gene expression compared with WT mice, while anti-BMP6 antibody administration to Hfe Tg mice improved the hepcidin excess and iron deficiency. In Hfe−/− mice, supraphysiologic doses of exogenous BMP6 improved hepcidin deficiency, reduced serum iron, and redistributed tissue iron to appropriate storage sites.
CONCLUSIONS
HFE interacts with the BMP6-SMAD signaling pathway to regulate hepcidin expression, but HFE is not necessary for hepcidin induction by BMP6. Exogenous BMP6 treatment in mice compensates for the molecular defect underlying Hfe hemochromatosis, and BMP6-like agonists may have a role as an alternative therapeutic strategy for this disease.
doi:10.1053/j.gastro.2010.07.044
PMCID: PMC3295242  PMID: 20682319
hemochromatosis; HFE; bone morphogenetic protein
10.  Iron-deficiency anemia from matriptase-2 inactivation is dependent on the presence of functional Bmp6 
Blood  2010;117(2):647-650.
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.
doi:10.1182/blood-2010-07-295147
PMCID: PMC3302207  PMID: 20940420
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
11.  Modulation of bone morphogenetic protein signaling in vivo regulates systemic iron balance 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2007;117(7):1933-1939.
Systemic iron balance is regulated by hepcidin, a peptide hormone secreted by the liver. By decreasing cell surface expression of the iron exporter ferroportin, hepcidin decreases iron absorption from the intestine and iron release from reticuloendothelial stores. Hepcidin excess has been implicated in the pathogenesis of anemia of chronic disease, while hepcidin deficiency has a key role in the pathogenesis of the iron overload disorder hemochromatosis. We have recently shown that hemojuvelin is a coreceptor for bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling and that BMP signaling positively regulates hepcidin expression in liver cells in vitro. Here we show that BMP-2 administration increases hepcidin expression and decreases serum iron levels in vivo. We also show that soluble hemojuvelin (HJV.Fc) selectively inhibits BMP induction of hepcidin expression in vitro and that administration of HJV.Fc decreases hepcidin expression, increases ferroportin expression, mobilizes splenic iron stores, and increases serum iron levels in vivo. These data support a role for modulators of the BMP signaling pathway in treating diseases of iron overload and anemia of chronic disease.
doi:10.1172/JCI31342
PMCID: PMC1904317  PMID: 17607365
12.  Association of Hepcidin mRNA Expression With Hepatocyte Iron Accumulation and Effects of Antiviral Therapy in Chronic Hepatitis C Infection 
Hepatitis Monthly  2014;14(11):e21184.
Background:
Iron overload is frequently observed in patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC) and is associated with the increased risk of liver fibrosis and carcinogenesis. Hepcidin is a regulator of iron homeostasis and a component of innate immunity. Based on experimental studies, iron overload might be a result of low hepcidin synthesis in CHC.
Objectives:
The aim of this case-control study was to assess hepcidin mRNA expression in liver tissue of patients with CHC in terms of iron metabolism parameters, hemochromatosis (HFE) gene mutations, disease activity, and efficacy of antiviral treatment with pegylated interferon and ribavirin.
Patients and Methods:
A total of 31 patients with CHC, who were qualified for antiviral therapy, were compared with 19 patients with chronic hepatitis B (CHB). In both groups, liver function tests and serum iron parameters were assayed and hepcidin mRNA expression was measured in liver specimens using real time PCR with normalization to reference genes mRNA of stable expression.
Results:
Patients with CHC had lower hepcidin mRNA expression and more frequently iron deposits in hepatocytes than subjects with CHB did. In CHC group, hepcidin mRNA expression was positively correlated with alanine aminotransferase activity and serum iron concentration. Low expression of hepcidin had no correlation with tissue iron overload in those with CHC. In univariate analysis, HCV viral load and efficacy of antiviral treatment were not significantly associated with hepcidin mRNA expression.
Conclusions:
Further studies on the role of hepcidin in pathogenesis of CHC are needed to assess the potency of its use in antiviral treatment.
doi:10.5812/hepatmon.21184
PMCID: PMC4286710  PMID: 25598789
Hepatitis C; Hepcidin; Iron Overload; Liver; Interferon-alpha
13.  Hepcidin Levels and Their Determinants in Different Types of Myelodysplastic Syndromes 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e23109.
Iron overload may represent an additional clinical problem in patients with Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS), with recent data suggesting prognostic implications. Beyond red blood cells transfusions, dysregulation of hepcidin, the key iron hormone, may play a role, but studies until now have been hampered by technical problems. Using a recently validated assay, we measured serum hepcidin in 113 patients with different MDS subtypes. Mean hepcidin levels were consistently heterogeneous across different MDS subtypes, with the lowest levels in refractory anemia with ringed sideroblasts (RARS, 1.43 nM) and the highest in refractory anemia with excess blasts (RAEB, 11.3 nM) or in chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML, 10.04 nM) (P = 0.003 by ANOVA). MDS subtypes remained significant predictors of hepcidin in multivariate analyses adjusted for ferritin and transfusion history. Consistently with current knowledge on hepcidin action/regulation, RARS patients had the highest levels of toxic non-transferrin-bound-iron, while RAEB and CMML patients had substantial elevation of C-Reactive Protein as compared to other MDS subtypes, and showed lost of homeostatic regulation by iron. Growth differentiation factor 15 did not appear as a primary hepcidin regulator in this series. If confirmed, these results may help to calibrate future treatments with chelating agents and/or hepcidin modulators in MDS patients.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0023109
PMCID: PMC3158762  PMID: 21886780
14.  Rethinking Iron Regulation and Assessment in Iron Deficiency, Anemia of Chronic Disease, and Obesity: Introducing Hepcidin 
Adequate iron availability is essential to human development and overall health. Iron is a key component of oxygen-carrying proteins, has a pivotal role in cellular metabolism, and is essential to cell growth and differentiation. Inadequate dietary iron intake, chronic and acute inflammatory conditions, and obesity are each associated with alterations in iron homeostasis. Tight regulation of iron is necessary because iron is highly toxic and human beings can only excrete small amounts through sweat, skin and enterocyte sloughing, and fecal and menstrual blood loss. Hepcidin, a small peptide hormone produced mainly by the liver, acts as the key regulator of systemic iron homeostasis. Hepcidin controls movement of iron into plasma by regulating the activity of the sole known iron exporter ferroportin-1. Downregulation of the ferroportin-1 exporter results in sequestration of iron within intestinal enterocytes, hepatocytes, and iron-storing macrophages reducing iron bioavailability. Hepcidin expression is increased by higher body iron levels and inflammation and decreased by anemia and hypoxia. Importantly, existing data illustrate that hepcidin may play a significant role in the development of several iron-related disorders, including the anemia of chronic disease and the iron dysregulation observed in obesity. Therefore, the purpose of this article is to discuss iron regulation, with specific emphasis on systemic regulation by hepcidin, and examine the role of hepcidin within several disease states, including iron deficiency, anemia of chronic disease, and obesity. The relationship between obesity and iron depletion and the clinical assessment of iron status will also be reviewed.
doi:10.1016/j.jada.2011.08.038
PMCID: PMC3381289  PMID: 22717199
15.  An Insight into the Relationships between Hepcidin, Anemia, Infections and Inflammatory Cytokines in Pediatric Refugees: A Cross-Sectional Study 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(12):e4030.
Background
Hepcidin, a key regulator of iron homeostasis, is increased in response to inflammation and some infections, but the in vivo role of hepcidin, particularly in children with iron deficiency anemia (IDA) is unclear. We investigated the relationships between hepcidin, cytokines and iron status in a pediatric population with a high prevalence of both anemia and co-morbid infections.
Methodology/Principal Findings
African refugee children <16 years were consecutively recruited at the initial post-resettlement health check with 181 children meeting inclusion criteria. Data on hematological parameters, cytokine levels and co-morbid infections (Helicobacter pylori, helminth and malaria) were obtained and urinary hepcidin assays performed. The primary outcome measure was urinary hepcidin levels in children with and without iron deficiency (ID) and/or ID anaemia (IDA). The secondary outcome measures included were the relationship between co-morbid infections and (i) ID and IDA, (ii) urinary hepcidin levels and (iii) cytokine levels. IDA was present in 25/181 (13.8%). Children with IDA had significantly lower hepcidin levels (IDA median hepcidin 0.14 nmol/mmol Cr (interquartile range 0.05–0.061) versus non-IDA 2.96 nmol/mmol Cr, (IQR 0.95–6.72), p<0.001). Hemoglobin, log-ferritin, iron, mean cell volume (MCV) and transferrin saturation were positively associated with log-hepcidin levels (log-ferritin beta coefficient (β): 1.30, 95% CI 1.02 to 1.57) and transferrin was inversely associated (β: −0.12, 95% CI −0.15 to −0.08). Cytokine levels (including IL-6) and co-morbid infections were not associated with IDA or hepcidin levels.
Conclusions/Significance
This is the largest pediatric study of the in vivo associations between hepcidin, iron status and cytokines. Gastro-intestinal infections (H. pylori and helminths) did not elevate urinary hepcidin or IL-6 levels in refugee children, nor were they associated with IDA. Longitudinal and mechanistic studies of IDA will further elucidate the role of hepcidin in paediatric iron regulation.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0004030
PMCID: PMC2603326  PMID: 19107209
16.  Contribution of Hfe expression in macrophages to the regulation of hepatic hepcidin levels and iron loading 
Blood  2005;106(6):2189-2195.
Hereditary hemochromatosis (HH), an iron overload disease associated with mutations in the HFE gene, is characterized by increased intestinal iron absorption and consequent deposition of excess iron, primarily in the liver. Patients with HH and Hfe-deficient (Hfe−/−) mice manifest inappropriate expression of the iron absorption regulator hepcidin, a peptide hormone produced by the liver in response to iron loading. In this study, we investigated the contribution of Hfe expression in macrophages to the regulation of liver hepcidin levels and iron loading. We used bone marrow transplantation to generate wild-type (wt) and Hfe−/− mice chimeric for macrophage Hfe gene expression. Reconstitution of Hfe-deficient mice with wt bone marrow resulted in augmented capacity of the spleen to store iron and in significantly decreased liver iron loading, accompanied by a significant increase of hepatic hepcidin mRNA levels. Conversely, wt mice reconstituted with Hfe-deficient bone marrow had a diminished capacity to store iron in the spleen but no significant alterations of liver iron stores or hepcidin mRNA levels. Our results suggest that macrophage Hfe participates in the regulation of splenic and liver iron concentrations and liver hepcidin expression.
doi:10.1182/blood-2005-02-0629
PMCID: PMC2891009  PMID: 15914561 CAMSID: cams1059
17.  Hereditary Hemochromatosis and Transferrin Receptor 2 
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta  2011;1820(3):256-263.
Background
Multicellular organisms regulate the uptake of calories, trace elements, and other nutrients by complex feedback mechanisms. In the case of iron, the body senses internal iron stores, iron requirements for hematopoiesis, and inflammatory status, and regulates iron uptake by modulating the uptake of dietary iron from the intestine. Both the liver and the intestine participate in the coordination of iron uptake and distribution in the body. The liver senses inflammatory signals and iron status of the organism and secretes a peptide hormone, hepcidin. Under high iron or inflammatory conditions hepcidin levels increase. Hepcidin binds to the iron transport protein, ferroportin (FPN), promoting FPN internalization and degradation. Decreased FPN levels reduce iron efflux out of intestinal epithelial cells and macrophages into the circulation. Derangements in iron metabolism result in either the abnormal accumulation of iron in the body, or in anemias. The identification of the mutations that cause the iron overload disease, hereditary hemochromatosis (HH), or iron-refractory iron-deficiencey anemia has revealed many of the proteins used to regulate iron uptake.
Scope of the review
In this review we discuss recent data concerning the regulation of iron homeostasis in the body by the liver and how transferrin receptor 2 (TfR2) affects this process.
Major conclusions
TfR2 plays a key role in regulating iron homeostasis in the body.
General significance
The regulation of iron homeostasis is important. One third of the people in the world are anemic. HH is the most common inherited disease in people of Northern European origin and can lead to severe health complications if left untreated.
doi:10.1016/j.bbagen.2011.07.015
PMCID: PMC3234335  PMID: 21864651
Hereditary hemochromatosis; transferrin receptor 2; TfR2; HFE; hepcidin; hemojuvelin; BMP; ferroportin
18.  The A736V TMPRSS6 polymorphism influences hepcidin and iron metabolism in chronic hemodialysis patients: TMPRSS6 and hepcidin in hemodialysis 
BMC Nephrology  2013;14:48.
Background
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).
Methods
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.
Results
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).
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2369-14-48
PMCID: PMC3585892  PMID: 23433094
Anemia; Chronic kidney disease; Erythropoietin; Genetics; Inflammation; Iron; Hemodialysis; Hepcidin; Hfe gene; Matriptase-2; Tmprss6
19.  Intracellular Iron Transport and Storage: From Molecular Mechanisms to Health Implications 
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling  2008;10(6):997-1030.
Abstract
Maintenance of proper “labile iron” levels is a critical component in preserving homeostasis. Iron is a vital element that is a constituent of a number of important macromolecules, including those involved in energy production, respiration, DNA synthesis, and metabolism; however, excess “labile iron” is potentially detrimental to the cell or organism or both because of its propensity to participate in oxidation–reduction reactions that generate harmful free radicals. Because of this dual nature, elaborate systems tightly control the concentration of available iron. Perturbation of normal physiologic iron concentrations may be both a cause and a consequence of cellular damage and disease states. This review highlights the molecular mechanisms responsible for regulation of iron absorption, transport, and storage through the roles of key regulatory proteins, including ferroportin, hepcidin, ferritin, and frataxin. In addition, we present an overview of the relation between iron regulation and oxidative stress and we discuss the role of functional iron overload in the pathogenesis of hemochromatosis, neurodegeneration, and inflammation. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 10, 997–1030.
Introduction
Iron Transport
Nonintestinal iron transport by transferring
Iron-bound transferrin binds the transferrin receptor for cellular iron uptake
Regulation of transferrin receptor 1 by iron regulatory element–iron regulatory protein system
Transcriptional regulation of transferrin receptor 1
Differential regulation of transferrin receptor 1 and transferrin receptor 2
Transferrin receptor 1 is regulated by hereditary hemochromatosis protein
Transferrin-independent cellular iron uptake
Intestinal iron absorption
Regulation of divalent metal transporter 1
Ferroportin is responsible for cellular iron efflux
Ferroportin associates and cooperates with ceruloplasmin
Ferroportin and hephaestin cooperate in iron efflux from intestinal cells
Hepcidin
Iron Storage and Ferritin
Structure, tissue distribution, and importance of cytoplasmic ferritin
Iron efflux and ferritin degradation
Serum ferritin and ferritin receptor
Mitochondrial ferritin
Nuclear ferritin
Regulation of Ferritin
Iron-mediated ferritin regulation
Ferritin regulation by reactive oxygen species
Ferritin transcriptional regulation by cytokines
Ferritin regulation in erythroleukemic cells
Frataxin and Iron Homeostasis
Frataxin and Friedreich ataxia
Frataxin and mitochondrial iron traffic
Frataxin, heme synthesis, and iron–sulfur cluster biogenesis
Frataxin gene regulation
Treatments
Functional Iron Overload and Human Health
Hereditary hemochromatosis
Mutant iron-responsive element-mediated iron overload
Iron regulation and neurodegeneration
Conclusions and Future Directions
doi:10.1089/ars.2007.1893
PMCID: PMC2932529  PMID: 18327971
20.  The Hepcidin-Ferroportin System as a Therapeutic Target in Anemias and Iron Overload Disorders 
The review summarizes the current understanding of the role of hepcidin and ferroportin in normal iron homeostasis and its disorders. It further discusses the various approaches to therapeutic targeting of hepcidin and ferroportin in iron overload diseases (mainly hereditary hemochromatosis and β-thalassemia) and iron-restrictive anemias (anemias associated with infections, inflammatory disorders and certain malignancies, anemia of chronic kidney diseases, iron-refractory iron deficiency anemia).
doi:10.1182/asheducation-2011.1.538
PMCID: PMC4034574  PMID: 22160086
21.  A Multi-Scale Model of Hepcidin Promoter Regulation Reveals Factors Controlling Systemic Iron Homeostasis 
PLoS Computational Biology  2014;10(1):e1003421.
Systemic iron homeostasis involves a negative feedback circuit in which the expression level of the peptide hormone hepcidin depends on and controls the iron blood levels. Hepcidin expression is regulated by the BMP6/SMAD and IL6/STAT signaling cascades. Deregulation of either pathway causes iron-related diseases such as hemochromatosis or anemia of inflammation. We quantitatively analyzed how BMP6 and IL6 control hepcidin expression. Transcription factor (TF) phosphorylation and reporter gene expression were measured under co-stimulation conditions, and the promoter was perturbed by mutagenesis. Using mathematical modeling, we systematically analyzed potential mechanisms of cooperative and competitive promoter regulation by the transcription factors, and experimentally validated the model predictions. Our results reveal that hepcidin cross-regulation primarily occurs by combinatorial transcription factor binding to the promoter, whereas signaling crosstalk is insignificant. We find that the presence of two BMP-responsive elements enhances the steepness of the promoter response towards the iron-sensing BMP signaling axis, which promotes iron homeostasis in vivo. IL6 co-stimulation reduces the promoter sensitivity towards the BMP signal, because the SMAD and STAT transcription factors compete for recruiting RNA polymerase to the transcription start site. This may explain why inflammatory signals disturb iron homeostasis in anemia of inflammation. Taken together, our results reveal why the iron homeostasis circuit is sensitive to perturbations implicated in disease.
Author Summary
The nutritional iron uptake is tightly regulated because the body has limited capacity of iron excretion. Mammals maintain iron homeostasis by a negative feedback loop, in which the peptide hepcidin senses the iron blood level and controls iron resorption. Molecular perturbations in the homeostasis loop lead to iron-related diseases such as hemochromatosis or anemia of inflammation. Quantitative studies are required to understand the dynamics of the iron homeostasis circuitry in health and disease. We investigated how the biological activity of hepcidin is regulated by combining experiments with mathematical modeling. We present a multi-scale model that describes the signaling network and the gene promoter controlling hepcidin expression. Possible scenarios of hepcidin regulation were systematically tested against experimental data, and interpreted using a network model of iron metabolism in vivo. The analysis showed that the presence of multiple redundant regulatory elements in the hepcidin gene promoter facilitates homeostasis, because changes in iron blood levels are sensed with high sensitivity. We further suggest that inflammatory signals establish molecular competition at the hepcidin promoter, thereby reducing its iron sensitivity and leading to a loss of homeostasis in anemia of inflammation. We conclude that quantitative insights into hepcidin expression regulation explain features of systemic iron homeostasis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003421
PMCID: PMC3879105  PMID: 24391488
22.  The gene encoding the iron regulatory peptide hepcidin is regulated by anemia, hypoxia, and inflammation 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2002;110(7):1037-1044.
The present study was aimed at determining whether hepcidin, a recently identified peptide involved in iron metabolism, plays a role in conditions associated with both iron overload and iron deficiency. Hepcidin mRNA levels were assessed in two models of anemia, acute hemolysis provoked by phenylhydrazine and bleeding provoked by repeated phlebotomies. Hepcidin response to hypoxia was also studied, both ex vivo, in human hepatoma cells, and in vivo. Anemia and hypoxia were associated with a dramatic decrease in liver hepcidin gene expression, which may account for the increase in iron release from reticuloendothelial cells and increase in iron absorption frequently observed in these situations. A single injection of turpentine for 16 hours induced a sixfold increase in liver hepcidin mRNA levels and a twofold decrease in serum iron. The hyposideremic effect of turpentine was completely blunted in hepcidin-deficient mice, revealing hepcidin participation in anemia of inflammatory states. These modifications of hepcidin gene expression further suggest a key role for hepcidin in iron homeostasis under various pathophysiological conditions, which may support the pharmaceutical use of hepcidin agonists and antagonists in various iron homeostasis disorders.
doi:10.1172/JCI15686
PMCID: PMC151151  PMID: 12370282
23.  Gender-related variations in iron metabolism and liver diseases 
World Journal of Hepatology  2010;2(8):302-310.
The regulation of iron metabolism involves multiple organs including the duodenum, liver and bone marrow. The recent discoveries of novel iron-regulatory proteins have brought the liver to the forefront of iron homeostasis. The iron overload disorder, genetic hemochromatosis, is one of the most prevalent genetic diseases in individuals of Caucasian origin. Furthermore, patients with non-hemochromatotic liver diseases, such as alcoholic liver disease, chronic hepatitis C or nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, often exhibit elevated serum iron indices (ferritin, transferrin saturation) and mild to moderate hepatic iron overload. Clinical data indicate significant differences between men and women regarding liver injury in patients with alcoholic liver disease, chronic hepatitis C or nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. The penetrance of genetic hemochromatosis also varies between men and women. Hepcidin has been suggested to act as a modifier gene in genetic hemochromatosis. Hepcidin is a circulatory antimicrobial peptide synthesized by the liver. It plays a pivotal role in the regulation of iron homeostasis. Hepcidin has been shown to be regulated by iron, inflammation, oxidative stress, hypoxia, alcohol, hepatitis C and obesity. Sex and genetic background have also been shown to modulate hepcidin expression in mice. The role of gender in the regulation of human hepcidin gene expression in the liver is unknown. However, hepcidin may play a role in gender-based differences in iron metabolism and liver diseases. Better understanding of the mechanisms associated with gender-related differences in iron metabolism and chronic liver diseases may enable the development of new treatment strategies.
doi:10.4254/wjh.v2.i8.302
PMCID: PMC2999297  PMID: 21161013
Alcohol; Hepcidin; Hepatitis C; Hemochromatosis; Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis
24.  Biting the Iron Bullet: Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress Adds the Pain of Hepcidin to Chronic Liver Disease 
Hepatology (Baltimore, Md.)  2010;51(2):705-707.
Hepcidin is a peptide hormone that is secreted by the liver and controls body iron homeostasis. Hepcidin overproduction causes anemia of inflammation, whereas its deficiency leads to hemochromatosis. Inflammation and iron are known extracellular stimuli for hepcidin expression. We found that endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress also induces hepcidin expression and causes hypoferremia and spleen iron sequestration in mice. CREBH (cyclic AMP response element-binding protein H), an ER stress-activated transcription factor, binds to and transactivates the hepcidin promoter. Hepcidin induction in response to exogenously administered toxins or accumulation of unfolded protein in the ER is defective in CREBH knockout mice, indicating a role for CREBH in ER stress-regulated hepcidin expression. The regulation of hepcidin by ER stress links the intracellular response involved in protein quality control to innate immunity and iron homeostasis.
doi:10.1002/hep.23507
PMCID: PMC2849800  PMID: 20104510
25.  ER Stress Controls Iron Metabolism Through Induction of Hepcidin 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2009;325(5942):877-880.
Hepcidin is a peptide hormone that is secreted by the liver and controls body iron homeostasis. Hepcidin overproduction causes anemia of inflammation, whereas its deficiency leads to hemochromatosis. Inflammation and iron are known extracellular stimuli for hepcidin expression. We found that endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress also induces hepcidin expression and causes hypoferremia and spleen iron sequestration in mice. CREBH (cyclic AMP response element–binding protein H), an ER stress–activated transcription factor, binds to and transactivates the hepcidin promoter. Hepcidin induction in response to exogenously administered toxins or accumulation of unfolded protein in the ER is defective in CREBH knockout mice, indicating a role for CREBH in ER stress–regulated hepcidin expression. The regulation of hepcidin by ER stress links the intracellular response involved in protein quality control to innate immunity and iron homeostasis.
doi:10.1126/science.1176639
PMCID: PMC2923557  PMID: 19679815

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