Patients with hematologic malignancies undergoing allogeneic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) commonly have an elevated serum ferritin prior to HSCT, which has been associated with increased mortality after transplantation. This has led to the suggestion that iron overload is common and deleterious in this patient population. However, the relationship between serum ferritin and parenchymal iron overload in such patients is unknown. We report a prospective study of 48 patients with acute leukemia (AL) or myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) under going myeloablative HSCT, using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to estimate liver iron content (LIC) and cardiac iron. The median (and range) pre-HSCT value of serum ferritin was 1549 ng/ mL (20–6989); serum hepcidin, 59 ng/mL (10–468); labile plasma iron, 0 LPI units (0.0–0.9). Eighty-five percent of patients had hepatic iron overload (HIO), and 42% had significant HIO (LIC ≥5.0 mg/gdw). Only 1 patient had cardiac iron overload. There was a strong correlation between pre-HSCT serum ferritin and estimated LIC (r =.75), which was mostly dependent on prior transfusion history. Serum hepcidin was appropriately elevated in patients with HIO. Labile plasma iron elevation was rare. A regression calibration analysis supported the hypothesis that elevated pre-HSCT LIC is significantly associated with inferior post-HSCT survival. These results contribute to our understanding of the prevalence, mechanism, and consequences of iron overload in HSCT.
Iron overload; Acute myeloid leukemia; Acute lymphoblastic leukemia; Myelodysplastic syndromes; Stem cell transplantation
Excess body iron could persist for years after allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) with possible deleterious sequels. An iron depletive therapy with phlebotomy seems rational. Kinetics of iron removal by phlebotomy without erythropoietin support in non-thalassemic adult patients with iron overload after HCT and the impact of pre- and post-HCT hemochromatosis (HFE) genotype on iron mobilization were investigated. Patients and methods: Phlebotomy was initiated in 61 recipients of allografts due to hematologic malignancies (median age 48 years) after a median of 18 months. The prephlebotomy median serum ferritin (SF) was 1697ng/ml and the median number of blood transfusions 28 units. Alanine aminotransferase (ALT)/aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alkaline phosphates (AP), and bilirubin were elevated in 55.7%, 64% and 11.5% patients respectively. HFE-genotype was elucidated by polymerase chain reaction using hybridization probes and melting curve analysis. Results: Phlebotomy was well-tolerated irrespective of age or conditioning. A negative iron balance in 80% of patients (median SF 1086 ng/ml) and a rise in hemoglobin were observed (p<0.0001). Higher transfusional burden and SF were associated with a greater iron mobilization per session (p=0.02). In 58% of patients, a plateau after an initial steady decline in SF was followed by a second decline under further phlebotomy. The improvement in ALT (p=0.002), AST (p=0.03), AP (p=0.01), and bilirubin (p<0.0001) did not correlate with the decline in SF. Mutant HFE-gene variants were detected in 14/55 (25%) pre-HCT and 22/55 (40%) patients post-HCT. Overall, dissimilar pre- and posttransplantational HFE-genotypes were detected in 20/55 (40%) patients. Posttransplantational mutant HFE variants correlated with a slower decline in SF (p=0.007). Conclusions: Phlebotomy is a convenient therapy of iron overload in survivors of HCT. A negative iron balance and a rise in hemoglobin were observed in the majority of patients. Liver dysfunction improved irrespective of SF reduction suggesting a probable rapid decline of the deleterious labile plasma iron. In recipients of grafts with mutant HFE variants a “mixed chimerism” of HFE in body tissues might be created with a change in the set point for iron regulation. The transient plateau in SF after an initial decline might reflect iron mobilization from various tissues.
Iron overload; ferritin; phlebotomy; allogeneic HCT
In this case report we describe the relationship between ferritin levels and hepcidin in a patient with alcohol-related spur cell anemia who underwent liver transplantation. We demonstrate a reciprocal relationship between serum or urinary hepcidin and serum ferritin, which indicates that inadequate hepcidin production by the diseased liver is associated with elevated serum ferritin. The ferritin level falls with increasing hepcidin production after transplantation. Neither inflammatory indices (IL6) nor erythropoietin appear to be related to hepcidin expression in this case. We suggest that inappropriately low hepcidin production by the cirrhotic liver may contribute substantially to elevated tissue iron stores in cirrhosis and speculate that hepcidin replacement in these patients may be of therapeutic benefit in the future.
Alcohol; Iron; Anaemia; Hepcidin; Cirrhosis
Hepcidin, a peptide that is released into the blood in response to inflammation, prevents cellular iron export and results in declines in iron status. Elevated serum and urinary levels of hepcidin have been observed in athletes following exercise, and declines in iron status have been reported following prolonged periods of training. The objective of this observational study was to characterize the effects of an occupational task, military training, on iron status, inflammation, and serum hepcidin.
Volunteers (n = 21 males) included Norwegian Soldiers participating in a 7-day winter training exercise that culminated in a 3-day, 54 km ski march. Fasted blood samples were collected at baseline, on day 4 (PRE, prior to the ski march), and again on day 7 (POST, following the ski march). Samples were analyzed for hemoglobin, serum ferritin, soluble transferrin receptor (sTfR), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and serum hepcidin. Military training affected inflammation and serum hepcidin levels, as IL-6 and hepcidin concentrations increased (P < 0.05) from the baseline to POST (mean ± SD, 9.1 ± 4.9 vs. 14.5 ± 8.4 pg/mL and 6.5 ± 3.5 vs. 10.2 ± 6.9 ng/mL, respectively). Iron status was not affected by the training exercise, as sTfR levels did not change over the course of the 7-day study.
Military training resulted in significant elevations in IL-6 and serum hepcidin. Future studies should strive to identify the role of hepcidin in the adaptive response to exercise, as well as countermeasures for the prevention of chronic or repeated elevations in serum hepcidin due to exercise or sustained occupational tasks which may result in longer term decrements in iron status.
Physical activity; Operational stress; Military; Ferritin; Inflammation; Iron absorption; Soluble transferrin receptor
Recently, hepcidin expression in adipose tissue has been described and shown to be increased in patients with severe obesity. We tried to assess the effect of obesity on hepcidin serum levels and treatment outcome of iron deficiency anemia in children.
This was a case control study included 70 children with iron deficiency anemia "IDA" (35 obese and 35 non-obese) and 30 healthy non-obese children with comparable age and sex(control group). Parameters of iron status (Serum iron, ferritin, transferrin, total iron binding capacity and transferrin saturation) and serum hepcidin levels were assessed initially and after 3 months of oral iron therapy for IDA.
Compared to the control group, serum hepcidin was significantly lower in non-obese children with IDA(p < 0.01) and significantly higher in obese children with IDA (p < 0.01). Hepcidin increased significantly in non-obese children with IDA after 3 months of iron therapy (P < 0.01). On the other hand, obese children showed non-significant change in hepcidin level after iron therapy (p > 0.05). Although hepcidin showed significant positive correlations with Hb, serum iron and transferrin saturation in non-obese children with IDA, it showed significant negative correlations with Hb, serum iron and transferrin saturation in obese children with IDA (P < 0.05).
Obesity increased hepcidin levels and was associated with diminished response to oral iron therapy in childhood iron deficiency anemia.
Obesity; Hepcidin; Iron deficiency; Children
Hepcidin regulation is linked to both iron and inflammatory signals and may influence iron loading in nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). The aim of this study was to examine the relationships among HFE genotype, serum hepcidin level, hepatic iron deposition and histology in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). SNP genotyping for C282Y (rs1800562) and H63D (rs1799945) HFE mutations was performed in 786 adult subjects in the NASH Clinical Research Network (CRN). Clinical, histologic, and laboratory data were compared using nonparametric statistics and multivariate logistic regression. NAFLD patients with C282Y, but not H63D mutations, had lower median serum hepcidin levels (57 vs 65 ng/ml, p=0.01) and higher mean hepatocellular (HC) iron grades (0.59 vs 0.28, p<0.001), compared to wild type (WT) subjects. Subjects with hepatic iron deposition had higher serum hepcidin levels than subjects without iron for all HFE genotypes (p<0.0001). Hepcidin levels were highest among patients with mixed HC/reticuloendothelial system cell (RES) iron deposition. H63D mutations were associated with higher steatosis grades and NAFLD activity scores (OR≥1.4, CI >1.0≤2.5, p≤0.041), compared to WT, but not with either HC or RES iron. NAFLD patients with C282Y mutations had less ballooning or NASH (OR ≤0.62, 95% CI >0.39<0.94, p≤0.024) compared to WT subjects.
Presence of C282Y mutations in patients with NAFLD is associated with greater HC iron deposition and decreased serum hepcidin levels and there is a positive relationship between hepatic iron stores and serum hepcidin level across all HFE genotypes. These data suggest that body iron stores are the major determinant of hepcidin regulation in NAFLD regardless of HFE genotype. A potential role for H63D mutations in NAFLD pathogenesis is possible through iron-independent mechanisms.
NAFLD; Steatohepatitis; HFE; hepcidin; iron
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.
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.
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
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.
While allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) has proven curative potential for myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), relapse after HCT remains a problem. Pre-transplant cytoreduction with induction chemotherapy (IC) has been utilized to reduce relapse rates, but is associated with significant toxicity and mortality. Hypomethylating agents may achieve cytoreduction with limited toxicity; however, data on the effect of pre-HCT hypomethylation on post-HCT outcomes are limited. We retrospectively reviewed results in 68 patients who underwent allogeneic HCT for MDS or acute myeloid leukemia (AML) transformed from MDS. Thirty-five patients had received cytoreduction with azacitidine prior to HCT with either a high-dose (40%) or a reduced-intensity (60%) conditioning regimen, and 33 had undergone IC prior to HCT with high-dose conditioning. The estimated one-year overall survival was 57% in the azacitidine group and 36% in the IC group. The risk of post-HCT mortality (HR 0.68, 95% CI 0.35–1.30), non-relapse mortality (HR 0.99, 95% CI 0.41–2.34), and relapse (HR 0.34, 95% CI 0.41–2.34) were lower in the azacitidine group compared to the IC group, but only the hazard for relapse was significantly lower. After adjustment for cytogenetic risk, IPSS, and donor, the rates of post-HCT relapse for the two cohorts were similar. While the current study was retrospective and non-randomized and needs to be interpreted in this context, the results add to the growing evidence that pre-HCT therapy with azacitidine is associated with less toxicity than IC, and may allow for similar post-HCT outcomes.
azacitidine; MDS; induction chemotherapy; hypomethylation; reduced-intensity conditioning
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
Recipients of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) frequently have iron overload resulting from chronic transfusion therapy for anemia. In some cases, for example, in patients with myelodysplastic syndromes and thalassemia, this can be further exacerbated by increased absorption of iron from the gut as a result of ineffective erythropoiesis. Accumulating evidence has established the negative impact of elevated pretransplantation serum ferritin, a surrogate marker of iron overload, on overall survival and nonrelapse mortality after HSCT. Complications of HSCT associated with iron overload include increased bacterial and fungal infections as well as sinusoidal obstruction syndrome and possibly other regimen-related toxicities. Based on current evidence, particular attention should be paid to prevention and management of iron overload in allogeneic HSCT candidates, especially in patients with thalassemia and myelodysplastic syndromes. The pathophysiology of iron overload in the HSCT patient and optimum strategies to deal with iron overload during and after HSCT require further study.
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
This study was designed to evaluate the levels of hepcidin in the serum of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
In the study, 74 male patients (ages 45-75) in a stable period for COPD were grouped as Group I: Mild COPD (n:25), Group II: Moderate COPD (n:24), and Group III: Severe COPD (n:25). Healthy non-smoker males were included in Group IV (n:35) as a control group. The differences of hepcidin level among all the groups were examined. Also, in the patient groups with COPD, hepcidin level was compared with age, body mass index, cigarette (package/year), blood parameters (iron, total iron binding capacity, ferritin, hemoglobin, hematocrit [hct]), respiratory function tests, and arterial blood gas results.
Although there was no difference between the healthy control group and the mild COPD patient group (P=0.781) in terms of hepcidin level, there was a difference between the moderate (P=0.004) and the severe COPD patient groups (P=0.002). The hepcidin level of the control group was found to be higher than the moderate and severe COPD patient groups. In the severe COPD patients, hepcidin level increased with the increase in serum iron (P=0.000), hct (P=0.009), ferritin levels (P=0.012), and arterial oxygen saturation (SaO2, P=0.000).
The serum hepcidin level that is decreased in severe COPD brings into mind that it may play a role in the mechanism to prevent hypoxemia. The results suggest that serum hepcidin level may be a useful marker in COPD. Larger prospective studies are needed to confirm our findings between hepcidin and COPD.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; hepcidin; hypoxemia
The recent discovery of hepcidin, the key iron regulatory hormone, has changed our view of iron metabolism, which in turn is long known to be linked with insulin resistant states, including type 2 diabetes mellitus and the Metabolic Syndrome (MetS). Serum ferritin levels are often elevated in MetS (Dysmetabolic hyperferritinemia - DHF), and are sometimes associated with a true mild-to-moderate hepatic iron overload (dysmetabolic iron overload syndrome - DIOS). However, the pathophysiological link between iron and MetS remains unclear. This study was aimed to investigate, for the first time, the relationship between MetS and hepcidin at population level. We measured serum hepcidin levels by Mass Spectrometry in 1,391 subjects from the Val Borbera population, and evaluated their relationship with classical MetS features. Hepcidin levels increased significantly and linearly with increasing number of MetS features, paralleling the trend of serum ferritin. In multivariate models adjusted for relevant variables including age, C-Reactive Protein, and the HFE C282Y mutation, ferritin was the only significant independent predictor of hepcidin in males, while in females MetS was also independently associated with hepcidin. Overall, these data indicate that the fundamental iron regulatory feedback is preserved in MetS, i.e. that hepcidin tends to progressively increase in response to the increase of iron stores. Due to recently discovered pleiotropic effects of hepcidin, this may worsen insulin resistance and contribute to the cardiovascular complications of MetS.
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
In response to iron loading, hepcidin synthesis is homeostatically increased to limit further absorption of dietary iron and its release from stores. Mutations in HFE, transferrin receptor 2 (Tfr2), hemojuvelin (HJV) or bone morphogenetic protein 6 (BMP6) prevent appropriate hepcidin response to iron, allowing increased absorption of dietary iron, and eventually iron overload. To understand the role each of these proteins plays in hepcidin regulation by iron, we analyzed hepcidin mRNA responsiveness to short and long-term iron challenge in iron-depleted Hfe, Tfr2, Hjv and Bmp6 mutant mice. After 1-day (acute) iron challenge, Hfe−/− showed a smaller hepcidin increase than their wild-type strain-matched controls, Bmp6−/− nearly no increase, and Tfr2 and Hjv mutants no increase in hepcidin expression, indicating that all four proteins participate in hepcidin regulation by acute iron changes. After a 21-day (chronic) iron challenge, Hfe and Tfr2 mutants increased hepcidin expression to nearly wild-type levels but a blunted increase of hepcidin was seen in Bmp6−/− and Hjv−/− mice. BMP6, whose expression is also regulated by iron, may mediate hepcidin regulation by iron stores. None of the mutant strains (excepting Bmp6−/− mice) had impaired BMP6 mRNA response to chronic iron loading. Conclusion: TfR2, HJV and BMP6 and, to a lesser extent, HFE, are required for the hepcidin response to acute iron loading, but are partially redundant for hepcidin regulation during chronic iron loading, and are not involved in the regulation of BMP6 expression. Our findings support a model in which acute increases in holotransferrin concentrations transmitted through HFE, TfR2 and HJV augment BMP receptor sensitivity to BMPs. A distinct regulatory mechanism that senses hepatic iron may modulate hepcidin response to chronic iron loading.
Hereditary hemochromatosis; bone morphogenetic protein 6; hemojuvelin; HFE; transferrin receptor 2
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.
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
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
AIM: To study the role of hepcidin in hereditary hyperferritinemia cataract syndrome (HHCS).
METHODS: Six patients from two families with HHCS, confirmed by genetic analysis showing A to G mutation at position +40 in the L-ferritin gene, were recruited to undergo serum hepcidin and prohepcidin measurements using radioimmunoassay and enzyme linked immunoassay, respectively, and measurements were compared with levels in serum from 25 healthy volunteers (14 females), mean age 36 ± 11.9 years.
RESULTS: The serum hepcidin and prohepcidin levels in patients with HHCS were 19.1 ± 18.6 and 187 ± 120.9 ng/mL, respectively. Serum ferritin was 1716.3 ± 376 μg/L. Liver biopsy in one patient did not show any evidence of iron overload. Serum hepcidin and prohepcidin values in healthy controls (HCs) were 15.30 ± 15.71 and 236.88 ± 83.68 ng/mL, respectively, while serum ferritin was 110 ± 128.08 μg/L. There was no statistical difference in serum hepcidin level between the two cohorts (19.1 ± 18.6 ng/mL vs 15.30 ± 15.71 ng/mL, P = 0.612) using two-tailed t-test.
CONCLUSION: Serum hepcidin levels in HHCS patients is similar to that in HCs. Our study suggests that circulating ferritin is not a factor influencing hepcidin synthesis and does not have a role in the iron-sensing mechanism in hepatocytes.
Hereditary hyperferritinemia; Hereditary hyperferritinemia cataract syndrome; Hepcidin; Hepcidin assay; Iron-sensing mechanism; Iron responsive element; Ferritin
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.
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.
Tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) is known to play a role in the pathogenesis of graft-vs-host disease (GVHD), a cause of significant morbidity and treatment-related mortality (TRM) after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HCT). We measured the concentration of TNF-Receptor-1 (TNFR1) in the plasma of HCT recipients as a surrogate marker for TNF-α both prior to transplant and at day 7 in 82 children who underwent a myeloablative allogeneic HCT at the University of Michigan between 2000 and 2005. GVHD grade II-IV developed in 49% of patients at a median of 20 days after HCT. Increases in TNFR1 level at day 7 post HCT, expressed as ratios compared to pre-transplant baseline, correlated with severity of GVHD (p=0.02). In addition, day 7 TNFR1 ratios > 2.5 baseline were associated with inferior 1 year overall survival (51% vs 74%, p=0.04). As an individual biomarker, TNFR1 lacks sufficient precision to be used as a predictor for the development of GVHD. However, increases in the concentration of TNFR1, which are detectable up to two weeks in advance of clinical manifestations of GVHD, correlate with survival in pediatric HCT patients.
GVHD; hematopoietic stem cell transplantation; TNF; pediatrics