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.
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.
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 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hepcidin is a peptide hormone secreted by the liver that plays a central role in the regulation of iron homeostasis. Increased hepcidin levels result in anemia while decreased expression is the causative feature in most primary iron overload diseases. Mutations in hemochromatosis type 2 (HFE2), which encodes the protein hemojuvelin (HJV), result in the absence of hepcidin and an early-onset form of iron overload disease. HJV is a bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) coreceptor and HJV mutants have impaired BMP signaling. In this issue of the JCI, Babitt and colleagues show that BMPs are autocrine hormones that induce hepcidin expression (see the related article beginning on page 1933). Administration of a recombinant, soluble form of HJV decreased hepcidin expression and increased serum iron levels by mobilizing iron from splenic stores. These results demonstrate that recombinant HJV may be a useful therapeutic agent for treatment of the anemia of chronic disease, a disorder resulting from high levels of hepcidin expression.
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.
PMID: 15914561 CAMSID: cams1059
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).
We describe a new simple ELISA assay for measuring hepcidin in human serum with sufficient accuracy and reproducibility.
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 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.
PMID: 16565419 CAMSID: cams1056
ferroportin 1; Toll-like receptor 4; β2m; hereditary hemochromatosis; lipopolysaccharide
The mechanisms that allow the body to sense iron levels in order to maintain iron homeostasis are unknown. Patients with the most common form of hereditary iron overload have mutations in the hereditary hemochromatosis protein, HFE. They have lower levels of hepcidin, than unaffected individuals. Hepcidin, a hepatic peptide hormone, negatively regulates iron efflux from the intestines into the blood. We report two hepatic cell lines, WIF-B cells and HepG2 cells transfected with HFE, where hepcidin expression responded to iron-loaded transferrin. The response was abolished when endogenous transferrin receptor 2 (TfR2) was suppressed or in primary hepatocytes lacking either functional TfR2 or HFE. Furthermore, transferrin-treated HepG2 cells transfected with HFE chimeras containing only the α3 and cytoplasmic domains could upregulate hepcidin expression. Since the HFE α3 domain interacts with TfR2, these results supported our finding that TfR2/HFE complex is required for transcriptional regulation of hepcidin by holo-Tf.
HFE; TfR1; TfR2; hepcidin; hereditary hemochromatosis
Iron deficiency is a common cause of anemia. In end-stage renal disease (ESRD), iron deficiency impairs the therapeutic efficacy of recombinant erythropoietin. Oral or parental iron supplements usually are effective in treating iron deficiency anemia (IDA). Some patients, however, respond poorly to iron supplements and are diagnosed as having iron-refractory iron deficiency anemia (IRIDA). The disease represents a medical challenge but its underlying mechanism was unclear. Hepcidin is a central player in iron homeostasis. It down-regulates the iron exporter ferroportin, thereby inhibiting iron absorption, release and recycling. In ESRD, plasma hepcidin levels are elevated, which contributes to iron deficiency in patients. Matriptase-2, a liver transmembrane serine protease, has been found to have a major role in controlling hepcidin gene expression. In mice, defects in the Tmprss6 gene encoding matriptase-2 result in high hepcidin expression and cause severe microcytic anemia. Similarly, mutations in the human TMPRSS6 gene have been identified in patients with IRIDA. Thus, matriptase-2 is critical for iron homeostasis and may play a role in renal disease.
matriptase-2; TMPRSS6; hepcidin; end-stage renal disease; EPO resistance
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.
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.
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.
Anemia of Chronic Disease (ACD) or Anemia of Inflammation (AI) is prevalent in patients with chronic infection, autoimmune disease, cancer and chronic kidney disease. ACD is associated with poor prognosis and lower quality of life. Management of ACD using intravenous iron and erythropoiesis stimulating agents (ESAs) are ineffective for some patients and are not without adverse effects, driving the need for new alternative therapies. Recent advances in our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of iron regulation reveal that increased hepcidin, the iron regulatory hormone, is a key factor in the development of ACD. In this review, we will summarize the role of hepcidin in iron homeostasis, its contribution to the pathophysiology of ACD, and novel strategies that modulate hepcidin and its target ferroportin for the treatment of ACD.
Hemojuvelin; BMP6; Hepcidin; Anemia of Chronic Disease; Anemia of Inflammation
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.
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
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.
Iron homeostasis plays a critical role in many physiological processes, notably synthesis of heme proteins. Dietary iron sensing and inflammation converge in the control of iron absorption and retention by regulating the expression of hepcidin, a regulator of the iron exporter ferroportin. Human mutations in the glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored protein hemojuvelin (HJV; also known as RGMc and HFE2) cause juvenile hemochromatosis, a severe iron overload disease, but the way in which HJV intersects with the iron regulatory network has been unclear. Here we show that, within the liver, mouse Hjv is selectively expressed by periportal hepatocytes and also that Hjv-mutant mice exhibit iron overload as well as a dramatic decrease in hepcidin expression. Our findings define a key role for Hjv in dietary iron sensing and also reveal that cytokine-induced inflammation regulates hepcidin expression through an Hjv-independent pathway.
Iron is an essential element in our daily diet. Most iron is required for the de novo synthesis of red blood cells, where it plays a critical role in oxygen binding to hemoglobin. Thus, iron deficiency causes anemia, a major public health burden worldwide. On the other extreme, iron accumulation in critical organs such as liver, heart, and pancreas causes organ dysfunction due to the generation of oxidative stress. Therefore, systemic iron levels must be tightly balanced. Here we focus on the regulatory role of the hepcidin/ferroportin circuitry as the major regulator of systemic iron homeostasis. We discuss how regulatory cues (e.g., iron, inflammation, or hypoxia) affect the hepcidin response and how impairment of the hepcidin/ferroportin regulatory system causes disorders of iron metabolism.
iron regulation; hepcidin; anemia; iron overload
Hereditary hemochromatosis (HH) encompasses genetic disorders of iron overload characterized by deficient expression or function of the iron-regulatory hormone hepcidin. Mutations in 5 genes have been linked to this disease: HFE, TFR2 (encoding transferrin receptor 2), HAMP (encoding hepcidin), SLC40A1 (encoding ferroportin) and HJV (encoding hemojuvelin). Hepcidin inhibits iron export from cells into plasma. Hemojuvelin, an upstream regulator of hepcidin expression, is expressed in mice mainly in the heart and skeletal muscle. It has been suggested that soluble hemojuvelin shed by the muscle might reach the liver to influence hepcidin expression. Heart muscle is one of the target tissues affected by iron overload, with resultant cardiomyopathy in some HH patients. Therefore, we investigated the effect of iron overload on gene expression in skeletal muscle and heart using Illumina™ arrays containing over 47,000 probes. The most apparent changes in gene expression were confirmed using real-time RT-PCR.
Genes with up-regulated expression after iron overload in both skeletal and heart muscle included angiopoietin-like 4, pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase 4 and calgranulin A and B. The expression of transferrin receptor, heat shock protein 1B and DnaJ homolog B1 were down-regulated by iron in both muscle types. Two potential hepcidin regulatory genes, hemojuvelin and neogenin, showed no clear change in expression after iron overload.
Microarray analysis revealed iron-induced changes in the expression of several genes involved in the regulation of glucose and lipid metabolism, transcription and cellular stress responses. These may represent novel connections between iron overload and pathological manifestations of HH such as cardiomyopathy and diabetes.
This review summarizes the central role of hepcidin in the iron homeostasis mechanism, the molecular mechanism that can alter hepcidin expression, the relationship between hepcidin and erythropoiesis, and the pathogenetic role of hepcidin in different types of anemia. In addition, the usefulness of hepcidin dosage is highlighted, including the problems associated with analytical methods currently used as well as the measures of its molecular isoforms. Considering the central role of hepcidin in iron arrangement, it is reasonable to ponder its therapeutic use mainly in cases of iron overload. Further clinical trials are required before implementation.
Anemia; Hepcidin; Ferroportin; Hepcidin measurement; Hepcidin agonist therapy
Porphyria cutanea tarda (PCT) is the most common form of porphyria across the world. Unlike other forms of porphyria, which are inborn errors of metabolism, PCT is usually an acquired liver disease caused by exogenous factors, chief among which are excess alcohol intake, iron overload, chronic hepatitis C, estrogen therapy, and cigarette smoking. The pathogenesis of PCT is complex and varied, but hereditary or acquired factors that lead to hepatic iron loading and increased oxidative stress are of central importance. Iron loading is usually only mild or moderate in degree (less than that associated with full-blown hemochromatosis) and is usually acquired and/or due to mutations in HFE. Among acquired factors are excessive alcohol intake and chronic hepatitis C infection, which, like mutations in HFE, decrease hepcidin production by hepatocytes. The decrease in hepcidin leads to increased iron absorption from the gut. In the liver, iron-loading and increased oxidative stress leads to the formation of non-porphyrin inhibitor(s) of uroporphyrinogen decarboxylase and to oxidation of porphyrinogens to porphyrins. The treatment of choice of active PCT is iron reduction by phlebotomy and maintenance of a mildly iron-reduced state without anemia. Low-dose anti-malarials (cinchona alkaloids) are also useful as additional therapy or as alternative therapy for active PCT in those without hemochromatosis or chronic hepatitis C. In this review, we provide an update of PCT with special emphasis upon the important role often played by the hepatitis C virus.
chloroquine; chronic hepatitis C; hepatitis C virus; hereditary hemochromatosis; iron; porphyria cutanea tarda; oxidative stress; reactive oxygen species; therapeutic phlebotomy; uroporphyrinogen decarboxylase