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1.  Hepcidin-25 in Chronic Hemodialysis Patients Is Related to Residual Kidney Function and Not to Treatment with Erythropoiesis Stimulating Agents 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e39783.
Hepcidin-25, the bioactive form of hepcidin, is a key regulator of iron homeostasis as it induces internalization and degradation of ferroportin, a cellular iron exporter on enterocytes, macrophages and hepatocytes. Hepcidin levels are increased in chronic hemodialysis (HD) patients, but as of yet, limited information on factors associated with hepcidin-25 in these patients is available. In the current cross-sectional study, potential patient-, laboratory- and treatment-related determinants of serum hepcidin-20 and -25, were assessed in a large cohort of stable, prevalent HD patients. Baseline data from 405 patients (62% male; age 63.7±13.9 [mean SD]) enrolled in the CONvective TRAnsport STudy (CONTRAST; NCT00205556) were studied. Predialysis hepcidin concentrations were measured centrally with matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry. Patient-, laboratory- and treatment related characteristics were entered in a backward multivariable linear regression model. Hepcidin-25 levels were independently and positively associated with ferritin (p<0.001), hsCRP (p<0.001) and the presence of diabetes (p = 0.02) and inversely with the estimated glomerular filtration rate (p = 0.01), absolute reticulocyte count (p = 0.02) and soluble transferrin receptor (p<0.001). Men had lower hepcidin-25 levels as compared to women (p = 0.03). Hepcidin-25 was not associated with the maintenance dose of erythropoiesis stimulating agents (ESA) or iron therapy. In conclusion, in the currently studied cohort of chronic HD patients, hepcidin-25 was a marker for iron stores and erythropoiesis and was associated with inflammation. Furthermore, hepcidin-25 levels were influenced by residual kidney function. Hepcidin-25 did not reflect ESA or iron dose in chronic stable HD patients on maintenance therapy. These results suggest that hepcidin is involved in the pathophysiological pathway of renal anemia and iron availability in these patients, but challenges its function as a clinical parameter for ESA resistance.
PMCID: PMC3396629  PMID: 22808058
2.  Hepcidin Expression in the Liver: Relatively Low Level in Patients with Chronic Hepatitis C 
Molecular Medicine  2007;13(1-2):97-104.
Patients with chronic hepatitis C frequently have serum and hepatic iron overload, but the mechanism is unknown. Recently identified hepcidin, exclusively synthesized in the liver, is thought to be a key regulator for iron homeostasis and is induced by infection and inflammation. This study was conducted to determine the hepatic hepcidin expression levels in patients with various liver diseases. We investigated hepcidin mRNA levels of liver samples by real-time detection-polymerase chain reaction; 56 were hepatitis C virus (HCV) positive, 34 were hepatitis B virus (HBV) positive, and 42 were negative for HCV and HBV (3 cases of auto-immune hepatitis, 7 alcoholic liver disease, 13 primary biliary cirrhosis, 9 nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and 10 normal liver). We analyzed the relation of hepcidin to clinical, hematological, histological, and etiological findings. Hepcidin expression levels were strongly correlated with serum ferritin (P < 0.0001) and the degree of iron deposit in liver tissues (P < 0.0001). Hepcidin was also correlated with hematological parameters (vs. hemoglobin, P = 0.0073; vs. serum iron, P = 0.0012; vs. transferrin saturation, P < 0.0001) and transaminase levels (P = 0.0013). The hepcidin-to-ferritin ratio was significantly lower in HCV+ patients than in HBV+ patients (P = 0.0129) or control subjects (P = 0.0080). In conclusion, hepcidin expression levels in chronic liver diseases were strongly correlated with either the serum ferritin concentration or degree of iron deposits in the liver. When adjusted by either serum ferritin values or hepatic iron scores, hepcidin indices were significantly lower in HCV+ patients than in HBV+ patients, suggesting that hepcidin may play a pivotal role in the pathogenesis of iron overload in patients with chronic hepatitis C.
PMCID: PMC1869620  PMID: 17515961
3.  Tubular reabsorption and local production of urine hepcidin-25 
BMC Nephrology  2013;14:70.
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.
PMCID: PMC3623618  PMID: 23531037
AKI; β2-microglobulin; Hepcidin; Megalin; Kidney tubules
4.  A Novel Immunological Assay for Hepcidin Quantification in Human Serum 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(2):e4581.
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.
PMCID: PMC2640459  PMID: 19238200
5.  Inverse Relationship of Serum Hepcidin Levels with CD4 Cell Counts in HIV-Infected Patients Selected from an Indonesian Prospective Cohort Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79904.
Distortion of iron homeostasis may contribute to the pathogenesis of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and tuberculosis (TB). We studied the association of the central iron-regulatory hormone hepcidin with the severity of HIV and the association between hepcidin and other markers of iron homeostasis with development of TB.
Three groups of patients were selected from a prospective cohort of HIV-infected subjects in Bandung, Indonesia. The first group consisted of HIV-infected patients who started TB treatment more than 30 days after cohort enrollment (cases). The second group consisted of HIV-infected patients who were matched for age, gender and CD4 cell count to the cases group (matched controls). The third group consisted of HIV-infected patients with CD4 cell counts above 200 cells/mm3 (unmatched controls). Iron parameters including hepcidin were compared using samples collected at cohort enrollment, and compared with recently published reference values for serum hepcidin.
A total of 127 HIV-infected patients were included, 42 cases together with 42 matched controls and 43 unmatched controls. Patients with advanced HIV infection had elevated serum hepcidin and ferritin levels. Hepcidin levels correlated inversely with CD4 cells and hemoglobin. Cases had significantly higher hepcidin and ferritin concentrations at cohort enrollment compared to matched controls, but these differences were fully accounted for by the cases who started TB treatment between day 31 and 60 after enrollment. Hepcidin levels were not different in those with or without hepatitis C infection.
Iron metabolism is distorted in advanced HIV infection with CD4 cell counts correlating inversely with serum hepcidin levels. High serum hepcidin levels and hyperferritinemia were found in patients starting TB treatment shortly after cohort enrollment, suggesting that these parameters have a predictive value for development of manifest TB in HIV-infected patients.
PMCID: PMC3823592  PMID: 24244576
6.  Pro-hepcidin: expression and cell specific localisation in the liver and its regulation in hereditary haemochromatosis, chronic renal insufficiency, and renal anaemia 
Gut  2004;53(5):735-743.
Background and aims: The hepatic peptide hormone hepcidin, which has recently been isolated from human plasma and urine, is thought to be a central regulator of iron homeostasis. We investigated the presence and cellular localisation of hepcidin in the liver and developed a non-invasive assay to analyse its regulation in patients with hereditary haemochromatosis (HH), chronic renal insufficiency (CRI), and renal anaemia (RA).
Methods: Expression and localisation of hepcidin was shown by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, western blot, immunocytochemistry, and immunofluorescence in human and guinea pig liver. Serum concentrations were determined in various groups of patients using a sensitive enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).
Results: Western blot analysis with region specific antibodies identified a ~10 kDa peptide corresponding to the apparent molecular mass of pro-hepcidin. Localisation studies revealed that pro-hepcidin is expressed at the basolateral membrane domain of hepatocytes and is also present in blood. We developed a stable sensitive ELISA for detection and determination of pro-hepcidin in human serum. Mean pro-hepcidin level in human serum of healthy volunteers was 106.2 ng/ml. Enhanced levels of pro-hepcidin (148.1 ng/ml) were found in patients with CRI but normal haemoglobin values, indicating that the kidneys may metabolise and/or eliminate the circulating hormone. In contrast, concentrations of pro-hepcidin were significantly decreased in patients with HH (70.2 ng/ml) and also in patients with RA (115.0 ng/ml) compared with the CRI group.
Conclusions: From the detection of pro-hepcidin in human serum, we conclude that the prohormone may be involved in the regulation of iron metabolism in HH. Decreased pro-hepcidin levels could play an important role in the pathogenesis of HH.
PMCID: PMC1774035  PMID: 15082594
hepcidin; chronic renal insufficiency; iron absorption; hereditary haemochromatosis; liver
7.  The A736V TMPRSS6 polymorphism influences hepcidin and iron metabolism in chronic hemodialysis patients: TMPRSS6 and hepcidin in hemodialysis 
BMC Nephrology  2013;14:48.
Aim of this study was to evaluate whether the A736V TMPRSS6 polymorphism, a major genetic determinant of iron metabolism in healthy subjects, influences serum levels of hepcidin, the hormone regulating iron metabolism, and erythropoiesis in chronic hemodialysis (CHD).
To this end, we considered 199 CHD patients from Northern Italy (157 with hepcidin evaluation), and 188 healthy controls without iron deficiency, matched for age and gender. Genetic polymorphisms were evaluated by allele specific polymerase chain reaction assays, and hepcidin quantified by mass spectrometry.
Serum hepcidin levels were not different between the whole CHD population and controls (median 7.1, interquartile range (IQR) 0.55-17.1 vs. 7.4, 4.5-17.9 nM, respectively), but were higher in the CHD subgroup after exclusion of subjects with relative iron deficiency (p = 0.04). In CHD patients, the A736V TMPRSS6 polymorphism influenced serum hepcidin levels in individuals positive for mutations in the HFE gene of hereditary hemochromatosis (p < 0.0001). In particular, the TMPRSS6 736 V variant was associated with higher hepcidin levels (p = 0.017). At multivariate analysis, HFE and A736V TMPRSS6 genotypes predicted serum hepcidin independently of ferritin and C reactive protein (p = 0.048). In patients without acute inflammation and overt iron deficiency (C reactive protein <1 mg/dl and ferritin >30 ng/ml; n = 86), hepcidin was associated with lower mean corpuscular volume (p = 0.002), suggesting that it contributed to iron-restricted erythropoiesis. In line with previous results, in patients without acute inflammation and severe iron deficiency the “high hepcidin” 736 V TMPRSS6 variant was associated with higher erythropoietin maintenance dose (p = 0.016), independently of subclinical inflammation (p = 0.02).
The A736V TMPRSS6 genotype influences hepcidin levels, erythropoiesis, and anemia management in CHD patients. Evaluation of the effect of TMPRSS6 genotype on clinical outcomes in prospective studies in CHD may be useful to predict the outcomes of hepcidin manipulation, and to guide treatment personalization by optimizing anemia management.
PMCID: PMC3585892  PMID: 23433094
Anemia; Chronic kidney disease; Erythropoietin; Genetics; Inflammation; Iron; Hemodialysis; Hepcidin; Hfe gene; Matriptase-2; Tmprss6
8.  Urine hepcidin has additive value in ruling out cardiopulmonary bypass-associated acute kidney injury: an observational cohort study 
Critical Care  2011;15(4):R186.
Conventional markers of acute kidney injury (AKI) lack diagnostic accuracy and are expressed only late after cardiac surgery with cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB). Recently, interest has focused on hepcidin, a regulator of iron homeostasis, as a unique renal biomarker.
We studied 100 adult patients in the control arm of a randomized, controlled trial who were identified as being at increased risk of AKI after cardiac surgery with CPB. AKI was defined according to the Risk, Injury, Failure, Loss, End-stage renal disease classification of AKI classification stage. Samples of plasma and urine were obtained simultaneously (1) before CPB (2) six hours after the start of CPB and (3) twenty-four hours after CPB. Plasma and urine hepcidin 25-isoforms were quantified by competitive enzyme-linked immunoassay.
In AKI-free patients (N = 91), urine hepcidin concentrations had largely increased at six and twenty-four hours after CPB, and they were three to seven times higher compared to patients with subsequent AKI (N = 9) in whom postoperative urine hepcidin remained at preoperative levels (P = 0.004, P = 0.002). Furthermore, higher urine hepcidin and, even more so, urine hepcidin adjusted to urine creatinine at six hours after CPB discriminated patients who did not develop AKI (area under the curve (AUC) receiver operating characteristic curve 0.80 [95% confidence interval (95% CI) 0.71 to 0.87] and 0.88 [95% CI 0.78 to 0.97]) or did not need renal replacement therapy initiation (AUC 0.81 [95% CI 0.72 to 0.88] 0.88 [95% CI 0.70 to 0.99]) from those who did. At six hours, urine hepcidin adjusted to urine creatinine was an independent predictor of ruling out AKI (P = 0.011). Plasma hepcidin did not predict no development of AKI. The study findings remained essentially unchanged after excluding patients with preoperative chronic kidney disease.
Our findings suggest that urine hepcidin is an early predictive biomarker of ruling out AKI after CPB, thereby contributing to early patient risk stratification.
PMCID: PMC3387629  PMID: 21816077
9.  Iron status in patients with chronic heart failure 
European Heart Journal  2012;34(11):827-834.
The changes in iron status occurring during the course of heart failure (HF) and the underlying pathomechanisms are largely unknown. Hepcidin, the major regulatory protein for iron metabolism, may play a causative role. We investigated iron status in a broad spectrum of patients with systolic HF in order to determine the changes in iron status in parallel with disease progression, and to associate iron status with long-term prognosis.
Methods and results
Serum concentrations of ferritin, transferrin saturation (Tsat), soluble transferrin receptor (sTfR), and hepcidin were assessed as the biomarkers of iron status in 321 patients with chronic systolic HF [age: 61 ± 11 years, men: 84%, left ventricular ejection fraction: 31 ± 9%, New York Heart Association (NYHA) class: 72/144/87/18] at a tertiary cardiology centre and 66 age- and gender-matched healthy subjects. Compared with healthy subjects, asymptomatic HF patients had similar haematological status, but increased iron stores (evidenced by higher serum ferritin without distinct inflammation, P < 0.01) with markedly elevated serum hepcidin (P < 0.001). With increasing HF severity, patients in advanced NYHA classes had iron deficiency (ID) (reduced serum ferritin, low Tsat, high sTfR), iron-restricted erythropoiesis (reduced haemoglobin, high red cell distribution width), and inflammation (high serum high-sensitivity-C-reactive protein and interleukin 6), which was accompanied by decreased circulating hepcidin (all P < 0.001). In multivariable Cox models, low hepcidin was independently associated with increased 3-year mortality among HF patients (P < 0.001).
Increased level of circulating hepcidin characterizes an early stage of HF, and is not accompanied by either anaemia or inflammation. The progression of HF is associated with the decline in circulating hepcidin and the development of ID. Low hepcidin independently relates to unfavourable outcome.
PMCID: PMC3697803  PMID: 23178646
Heart failure; Iron deficiency; Ferritin; Hepcidin; Prognosis
10.  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.
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.
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.
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.
Further studies on the role of hepcidin in pathogenesis of CHC are needed to assess the potency of its use in antiviral treatment.
PMCID: PMC4286710  PMID: 25598789
Hepatitis C; Hepcidin; Iron Overload; Liver; Interferon-alpha
11.  Effects of a Single Dose of Oral Iron on Hepcidin Concentrations in Human Urine and Serum Analyzed by a Robust LC-MS/MS Method 
The measurement of serum hepcidin, a peptide hormone that regulates iron metabolism, is clinically important to the understanding of iron homeostasis in health and disease. To date, the quantification of serum hepcidin levels by conventional immunological detection methods has proven problematic due to challenges in obtaining high quality antibodies which demonstrate good reproducibility. Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF) has been employed recently for more sensitive quantification of hepcidin; however, this method has high background levels and therefore less than optimal specificity.
In order to increase the specificity of the mass spectrometry based assay, we developed a robust, ultra-performance liquid-chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (UPLC-MS/MS) protocol using multiple selected reaction monitoring (mSRM) for quantification of hepcidin levels in urine and serum of human subjects. With this assay, we assessed levels of hepcidin before and for up to 8 h after oral ingestion of ferrous sulfate in ten adult human subjects without known disease.
The linear response of hepcidin quantitation on each instrument was measured, and the correlation coefficients of these calibrations were r2 = 0.9512 ± 0.0202 (n=5) for urine and r2 = 0.9709 ± 0.0291 (n=5) for serum [r2= mean ± SD]. Compared to baseline, the levels of urinary hepcidin between 2-4 h and 4-8 h of both women and men showed significant increases with p < 0.05 and p < 0.001, respectively. The levels of serum hepcidin between 4 h and 8 h in both women and men showed significant increases, compared with baseline values, with both p < 0.01. Interestingly, we also observed some degree of oscillation of levels, occurring at later time points.
We have developed and validated a new method for measuring hepcidin concentrations in human serum and urine and used it to demonstrate early increases with iron supplement in both urinary and serum levels of hepcidin, which return to baseline levels, except in urine samples from men.
PMCID: PMC3207492  PMID: 21867695
Hepcidin; Oral Iron; Mass Spectrometry; LC-MS/MS; Selected Reaction Monitoring
12.  The role of vitamin D in regulating the iron-hepcidin-ferroportin axis in monocytes 
Chronic kidney disease affects 40% of adults aged 65 and older. Anemia of CKD is present in 30% of patients with CKD and is associated with increased cardiovascular risk, decreased quality of life, and increased mortality. Hepcidin-25 (hepcidin), the key iron regulating hormone, prevents iron egress from macrophages and thus prevents normal recycling of the iron needed to support erythropoiesis. Hepcidin levels are increased in adults and children with CKD. Vitamin D insufficiency is highly prevalent in CKD and is associated with erythropoietin hyporesponsiveness. Recently, hepcidin levels were found to be inversely correlated with vitamin D status in CKD. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of vitamin D in the regulation of hepcidin expression in vitro and in vivo. This study reports that 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25(OH)2D3), the hormonally active form of vitamin D, is associated with decreased hepcidin and increased ferroportin expression in lipopolysaccharide (LPS) stimulated THP-1 cells. 1,25(OH)2D3 also resulted in a dose-dependent decrease in pro-hepcidin cytokines, IL-6 and IL-1β, release in vitro. Further, we show that high-dose vitamin D therapy impacts systemic hepcidin levels in subjects with early stage CKD. These data suggest that improvement in vitamin D status is associated with lower systemic concentrations of hepcidin in subjects with CKD. In conclusion, vitamin D regulates the hepcidin-ferroportin axis in macrophages which may facilitate iron egress. Improvement in vitamin D status in patients with CKD may reduce systemic hepcidin levels and may ameliorate anemia of CKD.
PMCID: PMC4119757  PMID: 25097830
Vitamin D; Hepcidin; Ferroportin; NRAMP1; IL-6; IL-1β; Macrophage; Chronic kidney disease; Anemia of inflammation
13.  A Low-Molecular-Weight Compound K7174 Represses Hepcidin: Possible Therapeutic Strategy against Anemia of Chronic Disease 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e75568.
Hepcidin is the principal iron regulatory hormone, controlling the systemic absorption and remobilization of iron from intracellular stores. The expression of the hepcidin gene, HAMP, is increased in patients with anemia of chronic disease. Previously, the synthetic compound K7174 was identified through chemical screening as a novel inhibitor of the adhesion of monocytes to cytokine-stimulated endothelial cells. K7174 also ameliorated anemia induced by inflammatory cytokines in mice, which suggests a possible involvement of hepcidin regulation. The present study was performed to assess the impact of K7174 on hepcidin expression in a human hematoma cell line and in mice in vivo. We first demonstrated that K7174 treatment in HepG2 cells significantly decreased HAMP expression. Then, we conducted microarray analysis to determine the molecular mechanism by which K7174 inhibits HAMP expression. Transcriptional profiling confirmed the downregulation of HAMP. Surprisingly, we found that K7174 strongly induced GDF15, known as a negative regulator of HAMP expression. Western blotting analysis as well as ELISA confirmed the induction of GDF15 by K7174 treatment. Furthermore, K7174-mediated HAMP suppression was rescued by the silencing of GDF15 expression. Interestingly, we found that K7174 also upregulates CEBPB. Promoter analysis and chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis revealed that CEBPB could contribute to K7174-mediated transcriptional activation of GDF15. Subsequently, we also examined whether K7174 inhibits hepcidin expression in mice. Quantitative RT-PCR analysis with liver samples from K7174-treated mice demonstrated significant upregulation of Gdf15 and downregulation of Hamp expression, as compared to control mice. Furthermore, serum hepcidin concentration was also significantly decreased in K7174-treated mice. In conclusion, K7174 inhibits hepcidin expression partly by inducing GDF15. K-7174 may be a potential therapeutic option to treat anemia of chronic disease.
PMCID: PMC3785497  PMID: 24086573
14.  Serum Pro-hepcidin Could Reflect Disease Activity in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis 
Journal of Korean Medical Science  2010;25(3):348-352.
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.
PMCID: PMC2826733  PMID: 20191031
Arthritis, Rheumatoid; Anemia; Hepcidin; Prohepcidin
15.  Advances in Quantitative Hepcidin Measurements by Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(7):e2706.
Assays for the detection of the iron regulatory hormone hepcidin in plasma or urine have not yet been widely available, whereas quantitative comparisons between hepcidin levels in these different matrices were thus far even impossible due to technical restrictions. To circumvent these limitations, we here describe several advances in time-of flight mass spectrometry (TOF MS), the most important of which concerned spiking of a synthetic hepcidin analogue as internal standard into serum and urine samples. This serves both as a control for experimental variation, such as recovery and matrix-dependent ionization and ion suppression, and at the same time allows value assignment to the measured hepcidin peak intensities. The assay improvements were clinically evaluated using samples from various patients groups and its relevance was further underscored by the significant correlation of serum hepcidin levels with serum iron indices in healthy individuals. Most importantly, this approach allowed kinetic studies as illustrated by the paired analyses of serum and urine samples, showing that more than 97% of the freely filtered serum hepcidin can be reabsorbed in the kidney. Thus, the here reported advances in TOF MS-based hepcidin measurements represent critical steps in the accurate quantification of hepcidin in various body fluids and pave the way for clinical studies on the kinetic behavior of hepcidin in both healthy and diseased states.
PMCID: PMC2442656  PMID: 18628991
16.  Silencing of hepcidin enforces the apoptosis in iron-induced human cardiomyocytes 
Iron is essential not only for erythropoisis but also for several bioenergetics’ processes in myocardium. Hepcidin is a well-known regulator of iron homeostasis. Recently, researchers identified low hepcidin was independently associated with increased 3-year mortality among systolic heart failure patients. In addition, our previous in vivo study revealed that the left ventricular mass index increased in chronic kidney disease patients with lower serum hepcidin. We hypothesize that hepcidin interacts with the apoptotic pathway of cardiomyocytes during oxidative stress conditions.
To test this hypothesis, human cardiomyocytes were cultured and treated with ferrous iron. The possible underlying signaling pathways of cardiotoxicity were examined following knockdown studies using siRNAs of hepcidin (siRNA1 was used as a negative control and siRNA2 was used to silence hepcidin).
We found that ferrous iron induces apoptosis in human cardiomyocytes in a dose-dependent manner. This iron-induced apoptosis was linked to enhanced caspase 8, reduced Bcl-2, Bcl-xL, phosphorylated Akt and GATA-4. Hepcidin levels increased in human cardiomyocytes pretreated with ferrous iron and returned to non-iron treated levels following siRNA2 transfection. In iron pretreated cardiomyocytes, the siRNA2 transfection further increased caspase 8 expression and decreased the expression of GATA-4, Bcl-2, Bcl-xL and phosphorylated Akt than iron pretreatment alone, but caspase 9 levels remained unchanged.
Our findings suggest that hepcidin can rescue human cardiomyocytes from iron-induced apoptosis through the regulation of GATA-4/Bcl-2 and the extrinsic apoptotic pathway.
PMCID: PMC3995429  PMID: 24641804
Hepcidin siRNA; GATA-4; Apoptosis; Human cardiomyocytes
17.  The Relation of Hepcidin to Iron Disorders, Inflammation and Hemoglobin in Chronic Kidney Disease 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e99781.
The metabolism of hepcidin is profoundly modified in chronic kidney disease (CKD). We investigated its relation to iron disorders, inflammation and hemoglobin (Hb) level in 199 non-dialyzed, non-transplanted patients with CKD stages 1–5. All had their glomerular filtration rate measured by 51Cr-EDTA renal clearance (mGFR), as well as measurements of iron markers including hepcidin and of erythropoietin (EPO). Hepcidin varied from 0.2 to 193 ng/mL. The median increased from 23.3 ng/mL [8.8–28.7] to 36.1 ng/mL [14.1–92.3] when mGFR decreased from ≥60 to <15 mL/min/1.73 m2 (p = 0.02). Patients with absolute iron deficiency (transferrin saturation (TSAT) <20% and ferritin <40 ng/mL) had the lowest hepcidin levels (5.0 ng/mL [0.7–11.7]), and those with a normal iron profile (TSAT ≥20% and ferritin ≥40), the highest (34.5 ng/mL [23.7–51.6]). In multivariate analysis, absolute iron deficiency was associated with lower hepcidin values, and inflammation combined with a normal or functional iron profile with higher values, independent of other determinants of hepcidin concentration, including EPO, mGFR, and albuminemia. The hepcidin level, although it rose overall when mGFR declined, collapsed in patients with absolute iron deficiency. There was a significant interaction with iron status in the association between Hb and hepcidin. Except in absolute iron deficiency, hepcidin’s negative association with Hb level indicates that it is not down-regulated in CKD anemia.
PMCID: PMC4076189  PMID: 24978810
18.  Should we reconsider iron administration based on prevailing ferritin and hepcidin concentrations? 
The results of recent randomized, controlled trials in patients with chronic kidney disease and anemia have suggested that hyporesponsiveness to erythropoiesis stimulating agents (ESA) is a significant predictor of poor patient outcomes. Functional iron deficiency (FID) is the most common cause of suboptimal ESA response, and intravenous iron administration (IVFe) efficiently raises hemoglobin (Hb) concentrations even under the condition of FID. Consequently, renal anemia correction has conceptually shifted from ‘higher Hb values with high ESA doses’ to ‘prevention of ESA hyporesponsiveness with IVFe’. The discovery of hepcidin has profoundly changed our understanding of the place of FID in renal anemia therapy. Hepcidin reduces the abundance of iron transport proteins which facilitate iron absorption from the gut and iron mobilization from macrophages. Serum hepcidin is mainly modulated by iron stores, as is serum ferritin. High hepcidin or ferritin levels block intestinal iron absorption and iron recycling in macrophages and decrease iron availability for erythropoiesis, leading to FID. Iron administration, especially IVFe, increases hepcidin levels and concomitantly inhibits iron supply to erythroid cells. This in turn could lead to a vicious circle, exacerbating FID and increasing iron demand. Therefore, physicians should be cautious with unrestricted IVFe to chronic kidney disease patients with FID.
PMCID: PMC3521641  PMID: 23053592
Hepcidin; Iron; Renal anemia; Erythropoiesis stimulating agents; Ferritin
19.  Systemic and tumor level iron regulation in men with colorectal cancer: a case control study 
Increased cellular iron exposure is associated with colorectal cancer (CRC) risk. Hepcidin, a liver peptide hormone, acts as the primary regulator of systemic iron status by blocking iron release from enterocytes into plasma. Concentrations are decreased during low iron status and increased during inflammation. The role of hepcidin and the factors influencing its regulation in CRC remains largely unknown. This study explored systemic and tumor level iron regulation in men with CRC.
The participants were 20 CRC cases and 20 healthy control subjects. Colonic tissue (adenocarcinoma [cases] healthy mucosa [controls]) was subjected to quantitative PCR (hepcidin, iron transporters and IL-6) and Perls’ iron staining. Serum was analyzed using ELISA for hepcidin, iron status (sTfR) and inflammatory markers (CRP, IL-6, TNF-α). Anthropometrics, dietary iron intake and medical history were obtained.
Cases and controls were similar in demographics, medication use and dietary iron intake. Systemically, cases compared to controls had lower iron status (sTfR: 21.6 vs 11.8 nmol/L, p < 0.05) and higher marker of inflammation (CRP: 8.3 vs 3.4 μg/mL, p < 0.05). Serum hepcidin was mildly decreased in cases compared to controls; however, it was within the normal range for both groups. Within colonic tissue, 30% of cases (6/20) presented iron accumulation compared to 5% of controls (1/20) (χ2 = 5.0; p < 0.05) and higher marker of inflammation (IL-6: 9.4-fold higher compared to controls, p < 0.05). Presence of adenocarcinoma iron accumulation was associated with higher serum hepcidin (iron accumulation group 80.8 vs iron absence group 22.0 ng/mL, p < 0.05).
While CRC subjects had serum hepcidin concentrations in the normal range, it was higher given their degree of iron restriction. Inappropriately elevated serum hepcidin may reduce duodenal iron absorption and further increase colonic adenocarcinoma iron exposure. Future clinical studies need to assess the appropriateness of dietary iron intake or iron supplementation in patients with CRC.
PMCID: PMC4037273  PMID: 24872837
Iron metabolism; Hepcidin; Inflammation; Anemia; Colorectal cancer
20.  A hepcidin lowering agent mobilizes iron for incorporation into red blood cells in an adenine-induced kidney disease model of anemia in rats 
Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation  2013;28(7):1733-1743.
Anemia is a common complication of chronic kidney disease (CKD) that negatively impacts the quality of life and is associated with numerous adverse outcomes. Excess levels of the iron regulatory hormone hepcidin are thought to contribute to anemia in CKD patients by decreasing iron availability from the diet and from body stores. Adenine treatment in rats has been proposed as an animal model of anemia of CKD with high hepcidin levels that mirrors the condition in human patients.
We developed a modified adenine-induced kidney disease model with a higher survival rate than previously reported models, while maintaining persistent kidney disease and anemia. We then tested whether the small molecule bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) inhibitor LDN-193189, which was previously shown to lower hepcidin levels in rodents, mobilized iron into the plasma and improved iron-restricted erythropoiesis in this model.
Adenine-treated rats exhibited increased hepatic hepcidin mRNA, decreased serum iron, increased spleen iron content, low hemoglobin (Hb) and inappropriately low erythropoietin (EPO) levels relative to the degree of anemia. LDN-193189 administration to adenine-treated rats lowered hepatic hepcidin mRNA, mobilized stored iron into plasma and increased Hb content of reticulocytes.
Our data suggest that hepcidin lowering agents may provide a new therapeutic strategy to improve iron availability for erythropoiesis in CKD.
PMCID: PMC3707526  PMID: 23345622
anemia; chronic kidney disease; hepcidin; iron; mouse model
21.  Is hemojuvelin a possible new player in iron metabolism in hemodialysis patients? 
International Urology and Nephrology  2011;44(6):1805-1811.
Hemojuvelin (HJV) is highly expressed in the liver, skeletal muscles, and heart, seems to play a role in iron absorption and release from cells, and has anti-inflammatory properties. Moreover, HJV plays an essential role in the regulation of hepcidin expression, specifically in the iron-sensing pathway. Hepcidin has emerged as a key regulator of iron homeostasis. In this study we tested for the first time the hypothesis that HJV is related to iron metabolism in hemodialysis (HD) patients.
Iron status, complete blood count, and serum creatinine, albumin, and lipids were assessed, using standard laboratory methods. Serum levels of soluble transferrin receptor (sTFR), high-sensitivity CRP, IL-6, hepcidin, and HJV were measured using commercially available kits.
Serum HJV, hepcidin, ferritin, IL-6, hsCRP, and serum creatinine were significantly higher (all P < 0.001), whereas serum iron, sTFR, transferrin, hemoglobin, and erythrocyte count were significantly lower in HD patients, compared to healthy volunteers (all P < 0.001). In univariate analysis, HJV was strongly correlated (P < 0.001) with ferritin, transferrin saturation, and TIBC, as well as with hsCRP, hepcidin, Kt/V (P < 0.01) and residual renal function, the presence of diabetes, APKD, and coronary heart disease. Predictors of HJV level in multiple regression analysis were ferritin (beta value was 0.50, P = 0.00004) and transferrin saturation (beta value was 0.47, P = 0.0002), explaining 81% of the HJV variations.
Serum HJV is elevated in HD patients and related predominantly to kidney function and iron metabolism. However, HJV is probably not correlated to inflammation. HJV appears to be a new player in iron metabolism in these patients.
PMCID: PMC3510395  PMID: 22130959
Iron metabolism; Hemodialysis; Inflammation; Hepcidin; Hemojuvelin
22.  Inflammation-induced hepcidin-25 is associated with the development of anemia in septic patients: an observational study 
Critical Care  2011;15(1):R9.
Anemia is a frequently encountered problem during inflammation. Hepcidin is an interleukin-6 (IL-6)-induced key modulator of inflammation-associated anemia. Human sepsis is a prototypical inflammatory syndrome, often complicated by the development of anemia. However, the association between inflammation, hepcidin release and anemia has not been demonstrated in this group of patients. Therefore, we explored the association between hepcidin and sepsis-associated anemia.
92 consecutive patients were enrolled after presentation on the emergency ward of a university hospital with sepsis, indicated by the presence of a proven or suspected infection and ≥ 2 extended systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) criteria. Blood was drawn at day 1, 2 and 3 after admission for the measurement of IL-6 and hepcidin-25. IL-6 levels were correlated with hepcidin concentrations. Hemoglobin levels and data of blood transfusions during 14 days after hospitalisation were retrieved and the rate of hemoglobin decrease was correlated to hepcidin levels.
53 men and 39 women with a mean age of 53.3 ± 1.8 yrs were included. Hepcidin levels were highest at admission (median[IQR]): 17.9[10.1 to 28.4]nmol/l and decreased to normal levels in most patients within 3 days (9.5[3.4 to 17.9]nmol/l). Hepcidin levels increased with the number of extended SIRS criteria (P = 0.0005). Highest IL-6 levels were measured at admission (125.0[46.3 to 330.0]pg/ml) and log-transformed IL-6 levels significantly correlated with hepcidin levels at admission (r = 0.28, P = 0.015), day 2 (r = 0.51, P < 0.0001) and day 3 (r = 0.46, P < 0.0001). Twelve patients received one or more blood transfusions during the first 2 weeks of admission, not related to active bleeding. These patients had borderline significant higher hepcidin level at admission compared to non-transfused patients (26.9[17.2 to 53.9] vs 17.9[9.9 to 28.8]nmol/l, P = 0.052). IL-6 concentrations did not differ between both groups. Correlation analyses showed significant associations between hepcidin levels on day 2 and 3 and the rate of decrease in hemoglobin (Spearman's r ranging from -0.32, P = 0.03 to -0.37, P = 0.016, respectively).
These data suggest that hepcidin-25 may be an important modulator of anemia in septic patients with systemic inflammation.
PMCID: PMC3222038  PMID: 21219610
23.  Hepcidin-25, Mean Corpuscular Volume, and Ferritin as Predictors of Response to Oral Iron Supplementation in Hemodialysis Patients 
Nutrients  2014;7(1):103-118.
The benefit of oral iron therapy (OIT) and factors predictive of OIT response are not established in hemodialysis (HD) patients with iron deficiency anemia (IDA). We examined the values of hepcidin-25, mean corpuscular volume (MCV), and ferritin as predictors of OIT response. Oral ferrous fumarate (50 mg/day, 8 weeks) was given to 51 HD patients with IDA (hemoglobin (Hb) < 12 g/dL, ferritin < 100 ng/mL) treated with an erythropoietin activator. Sixteen patients were responders (improvement of Hb (ΔHb) ≥ 2 g/dL) and 35 were non-responders (ΔHb < 2g/dL). Baseline Hb, MCV, serum hepcidin-25, ferritin, iron parameters, and C-reactive protein (CRP) before and ΔHb after OIT were compared between groups. Hepcidin-25, MCV, ferritin, and transferrin saturation were lower in the responders than in the non-responders. Hepcidin-25 positively correlated with ferritin. Hepcidin-25, MCV, and ferritin positively correlated with baseline Hb and negatively correlated with ΔHb. Despite normal CRP levels in all patients, CRP correlated positively with hepcidin-25 and ferritin. Stepwise multiple linear regression analysis and receiver operating characteristics curve analysis revealed that hepcidin-25, MCV, and ferritin could predict OIT response. We conclude that hepcidin-25, MCV, and ferritin could be useful markers of iron storage status and may help predict OIT response in HD patients.
PMCID: PMC4303829  PMID: 25551249
anemia; ferritin; hemodialysis; hepcidin; iron; mean corpuscular volume
24.  Improved Mass Spectrometry Assay For Plasma Hepcidin: Detection and Characterization of a Novel Hepcidin Isoform 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e75518.
Mass spectrometry (MS)-based assays for the quantification of the iron regulatory hormone hepcidin are pivotal to discriminate between the bioactive 25-amino acid form that can effectively block the sole iron transporter ferroportin and other naturally occurring smaller isoforms without a known role in iron metabolism. Here we describe the design, validation and use of a novel stable hepcidin-25+40 isotope as internal standard for quantification. Importantly, the relative large mass shift of 40 Da makes this isotope also suitable for easy-to-use medium resolution linear time-of-flight (TOF) platforms. As expected, implementation of hepcidin-25+40 as internal standard in our weak cation exchange (WCX) TOF MS method yielded very low inter/intra run coefficients of variation. Surprisingly, however, in samples from kidney disease patients, we detected a novel peak (m/z 2673.9) with low intensity that could be identified as hepcidin-24 and had previously remained unnoticed due to peak interference with the formerly used internal standard. Using a cell-based bioassay it was shown that synthetic hepcidin-24 was, like the -22 and -20 isoforms, a significantly less potent inducer of ferroportin degradation than hepcidin-25. During prolonged storage of plasma at room temperature, we observed that a decrease in plasma hepcidin-25 was paralleled by an increase in the levels of the hepcidin-24, -22 and -20 isoforms. This provides first evidence that all determinants for the conversion of hepcidin-25 to smaller inactive isoforms are present in the circulation, which may contribute to the functional suppression of hepcidin-25, that is significantly elevated in patients with renal impairment. The present update of our hepcidin TOF MS assay together with improved insights in the source and preparation of the internal standard, and sample stability will further improve our understanding of circulating hepcidin and pave the way towards further optimization and standardization of plasma hepcidin assays.
PMCID: PMC3790851  PMID: 24124495
25.  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.
PMCID: PMC4009444  PMID: 24808863
hepcidin; heparin; anemia of chronic diseases; inflammation; iron metabolism

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