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1.  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
2.  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
3.  An Insight into the Relationships between Hepcidin, Anemia, Infections and Inflammatory Cytokines in Pediatric Refugees: A Cross-Sectional Study 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(12):e4030.
Hepcidin, a key regulator of iron homeostasis, is increased in response to inflammation and some infections, but the in vivo role of hepcidin, particularly in children with iron deficiency anemia (IDA) is unclear. We investigated the relationships between hepcidin, cytokines and iron status in a pediatric population with a high prevalence of both anemia and co-morbid infections.
Methodology/Principal Findings
African refugee children <16 years were consecutively recruited at the initial post-resettlement health check with 181 children meeting inclusion criteria. Data on hematological parameters, cytokine levels and co-morbid infections (Helicobacter pylori, helminth and malaria) were obtained and urinary hepcidin assays performed. The primary outcome measure was urinary hepcidin levels in children with and without iron deficiency (ID) and/or ID anaemia (IDA). The secondary outcome measures included were the relationship between co-morbid infections and (i) ID and IDA, (ii) urinary hepcidin levels and (iii) cytokine levels. IDA was present in 25/181 (13.8%). Children with IDA had significantly lower hepcidin levels (IDA median hepcidin 0.14 nmol/mmol Cr (interquartile range 0.05–0.061) versus non-IDA 2.96 nmol/mmol Cr, (IQR 0.95–6.72), p<0.001). Hemoglobin, log-ferritin, iron, mean cell volume (MCV) and transferrin saturation were positively associated with log-hepcidin levels (log-ferritin beta coefficient (β): 1.30, 95% CI 1.02 to 1.57) and transferrin was inversely associated (β: −0.12, 95% CI −0.15 to −0.08). Cytokine levels (including IL-6) and co-morbid infections were not associated with IDA or hepcidin levels.
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.
PMCID: PMC2603326  PMID: 19107209
4.  Serum hepcidin levels and iron parameters in children with iron deficiency 
The Korean Journal of Hematology  2012;47(4):286-292.
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.
PMCID: PMC3538801  PMID: 23320008
Serum hepcidin; Iron deficiency; Children
5.  Soluble transferrin receptor-ferritin index in the evaluation of anemia in inflammatory bowel disease: a case-control study 
No reliable biochemical markers exist for the differentiation between iron deficiency anemia (IDA) and anemia of chronic disease (ACD) in the setting of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The aim of this study was to investigate the use of soluble transferrin receptor (sTfR) and sTfR-ferritin (sTfR-F) index in the evaluation of anemia in patients with IBD.
One hundred IBD patients [49 ulcerative colitis (UC), 51 Crohn’s disease (CD)] and 102 healthy controls were enrolled. Serum levels of ferritin, transferrin saturation and sTfR were analyzed in all patients and controls. sTfR-F index was calculated based on the ratio: sTfR/ log ferritin. The value of sTfR and sTfR-F for diagnosis of IDA was assessed.
Forty two IBD patients (41% of UC and 42.9 % of CD) fulfilled the WHO criteria for the diagnosis of anemia. Among them thirty (30 %) had IDA, four (4%) had ACD and eight (8%) had mixed IDA/ACD. Patients with IDA had significantly higher sTfR and sTfR-F index levels compared with those without IDA (P<0.0001). Both sTfR and sTfR-F index were not correlated with CRP levels or disease activity. High sTfR levels (>1.8 mg/L) had sensitivity 81% and specificity 80%, whereas high sTfR-F index (>1.4) had sensitivity 91% and specificity 92% for the diagnosis of IDA.
These results suggest that the sTfR-F index seems to be very efficient in the detection and diagnosis of IDA, among patients with IBD.
PMCID: PMC3959302  PMID: 24713758
anemia; Crohn’s disease; ferritin; iron deficiency; ulcerative colitis
6.  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
7.  Obesity modulate serum hepcidin and treatment outcome of iron deficiency anemia in children: A case control study 
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.
PMCID: PMC3154149  PMID: 21771327
Obesity; Hepcidin; Iron deficiency; Children
8.  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
9.  Serum Prohepcidin Levels in Helicobacter Pylori Infected Patients with Iron Deficiency Anemia 
Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection appears to subvert the human iron regulatory mechanism and thus upregulates hepcidin, resulting in unexplained iron-deficiency anemia (IDA). We evaluated serum prohepcidin levels before and after eradication of H. pylori in IDA patients to assess whether it plays a role in IDA related to H. pylori infection.
Subjects diagnosed with unexplained IDA underwent upper gastrointestinal endoscopy and colonoscopy to confirm H. pylori infection and to exclude gastrointestinal bleeding. Blood was sampled before treatment to eradicate H. pylori and again 1 month later. Serum prohepcidin levels were measured using a commercial enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay kit.
Serum prohepcidin levels decreased significantly after oral iron replacement combined with H. pylori eradication (p = 0.011). The reduction ratio of serum prohepcidin levels after the treatment did not differ among the combined oral iron replacement and H. pylori eradication groups, the H. pylori eradication only group, and the iron replacement only group (p = 0.894).
Serum prohepcidin levels decrease after both H. pylori eradication and oral iron administration, with improvement in IDA. Serum concentration of prohepcidin is related to the anemia status, rather than to the current status of H. pylori infection, in IDA patients.
PMCID: PMC2880694  PMID: 20526394
Prohepcidin; Anemia, iron-deficiency; Helicobacter pylori
10.  An update on iron physiology 
Iron is an essential micronutrient, as it is required for adequate erythropoietic function, oxidative metabolism and cellular immune responses. Although the absorption of dietary iron (1-2 mg/d) is regulated tightly, it is just balanced with losses. Therefore, internal turnover of iron is essential to meet the requirements for erythropoiesis (20-30 mg/d). Increased iron requirements, limited external supply, and increased blood loss may lead to iron deficiency (ID) and iron-deficiency anemia. Hepcidin, which is made primarily in hepatocytes in response to liver iron levels, inflammation, hypoxia and anemia, is the main iron regulatory hormone. Once secreted into the circulation, hepcidin binds ferroportin on enterocytes and macrophages, which triggers its internalization and lysosomal degradation. Thus, in chronic inflammation, the excess of hepcidin decreases iron absorption and prevents iron recycling, which results in hypoferremia and iron-restricted erythropoiesis, despite normal iron stores (functional ID), and anemia of chronic disease (ACD), which can evolve to ACD plus true ID (ACD + ID). In contrast, low hepcidin expression may lead to iron overload, and vice versa. Laboratory tests provide evidence of iron depletion in the body, or reflect iron-deficient red cell production. The appropriate combination of these laboratory tests help to establish a correct diagnosis of ID status and anemia.
PMCID: PMC2754509  PMID: 19787824
Iron metabolism; Iron deficiency; Functional iron deficiency; Hepcidin; Anemia of chronic disease
11.  Change in Serum Ferritin Concentration in Experimentally Induced Anemia of Chronic Inflammation in Dogs 
In veterinary medicine, hyperferritinemia is often observed in dogs with various diseases (e.g., histiocytic sarcoma and immune-mediated hemolytic anemia) without evidence of iron overload. The mechanism underlying hyperferritinemia development is not well understood. Anemia caused by inflammation is termed as anemia of chronic disease (ACD), and experimentally induced ACD is known to cause slight hyperferritinemia. However, almost all these studies were based on short-term acute inflammation. Hepcidin, a protein mainly produced by hepatocytes, is thought to be a key regulator in iron release from reticuloendothelial cells (RECs), and its expression is related to ACD. We hypothesized that in the case of long-term ACD, iron deposition in RECs increases through hepcidin, causing a diachronic increase in serum ferritin levels. In the present study, we used a canine model with repeated subcutaneous administration of turpentine oil every 3 days over a period of 42 days (15 injections) and induced long-term inflammatory conditions; furthermore, we evaluated the change in serum ferritin concentration. Hypoproliferative anemia, bone marrow iron deposition and hypoferremia, which are characteristic of ACD, were observed on administering the turpentine injections. Hepatic iron content, hepatic hepcidin mRNA expression and serum ferritin concentration increased during the early period after turpentine injection, but returned to normal levels later. These results show that experimentally induced long-term ACD caused hypoproliferative anemia without sustained increase in hepcidin expression and did not cause systemic iron overload. Thus, chronic inflammation may not contribute greatly to increase in hyperferritinemia.
PMCID: PMC3942990  PMID: 23803460
ACD; canine; chronic inflammation; ferritin; hepcidin
12.  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
13.  Hepcidin Levels and Their Determinants in Different Types of Myelodysplastic Syndromes 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e23109.
Iron overload may represent an additional clinical problem in patients with Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS), with recent data suggesting prognostic implications. Beyond red blood cells transfusions, dysregulation of hepcidin, the key iron hormone, may play a role, but studies until now have been hampered by technical problems. Using a recently validated assay, we measured serum hepcidin in 113 patients with different MDS subtypes. Mean hepcidin levels were consistently heterogeneous across different MDS subtypes, with the lowest levels in refractory anemia with ringed sideroblasts (RARS, 1.43 nM) and the highest in refractory anemia with excess blasts (RAEB, 11.3 nM) or in chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML, 10.04 nM) (P = 0.003 by ANOVA). MDS subtypes remained significant predictors of hepcidin in multivariate analyses adjusted for ferritin and transfusion history. Consistently with current knowledge on hepcidin action/regulation, RARS patients had the highest levels of toxic non-transferrin-bound-iron, while RAEB and CMML patients had substantial elevation of C-Reactive Protein as compared to other MDS subtypes, and showed lost of homeostatic regulation by iron. Growth differentiation factor 15 did not appear as a primary hepcidin regulator in this series. If confirmed, these results may help to calibrate future treatments with chelating agents and/or hepcidin modulators in MDS patients.
PMCID: PMC3158762  PMID: 21886780
14.  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
15.  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
16.  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
17.  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
18.  Impact of iron deficiency anemia on chronic periodontitis and superoxide dismutase activity: a cross-sectional study 
Both chronic periodontitis (CP) and iron deficiency anemia (IDA) induce oxidative stress in the body and cause an imbalance between reactive oxygen species and antioxidants, such as superoxide dismutase (SOD). This study explored the SOD enzyme activity of saliva and serum in CP patients with and without IDA and analyzed the impact of IDA on CP.
A total of 82 patients were divided into four groups: control group (CG, 22), periodontally healthy IDA patients (IDA-PH, 20), CP patients (CP, 20), and IDA patients with CP (IDA-CP, 20). After clinical measurements and samplings, serum and salivary SOD levels were determined using an SOD assay kit.
IDA-CP patients exhibited a higher gingival index, bleeding on probing, probing pocket depth, and percentage (%) of sites with a clinical attachment loss (CAL) of ≥6 mm (P<0.008) than CP patients. The mean salivary and serum SOD levels were significantly lower in the IDA-PH, CP, and IDA-CP patients than in the CG group (P<0.008). A significant positive correlation between salivary and serum SOD activity was observed in IDA (P<0.05). Furthermore, serum and salivary SOD levels were significantly and negatively correlated with all periodontal parameters including the percentage of sites with CAL of 4-5 and ≥6 mm (P<0.05) except the significant correlation between salivary SOD activity and mean CAL and the percentage of sites with CAL of 4-5 mm (P>0.05) in these patients.
Within the limits of this study, it may be suggested that IDA patients with chronic periodontitis have more periodontal breakdowns than patients with chronic periodontitis. Serum and salivary SOD activity levels were lower in the IDA-PH, CP and IDA-CP groups than in the CG. Iron deficiency anemia influenced the serum SOD activity but did not seem to affect the salivary SOD activity in these patients.
Graphical Abstract
PMCID: PMC3999353  PMID: 24778899
Chronic periodontitis; Iron deficiency anemia; Oxidative stress; Superoxide dismutase
19.  Prevalence of Anemia and Underlying Iron Status in Naive Antiretroviral Therapy HIV-Infected Children with Moderate Immune Suppression 
AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses  2012;28(12):1679-1686.
Anemia is common in HIV-infected children and iron deficiency is thought to be a common cause. This study investigates the prevalence of anemia, thalassemia, and underlying iron status in Thai and Cambodian children without advanced HIV disease to determine the necessity of routine iron supplementation. Antiretroviral (ARV)-naive HIV-infected Asian children aged 1–12 years, with CD4 15–24%, CDC A or B, and hemoglobin (Hb) ≥7.5 g/dl were eligible for the study. Iron studies, serum ferritin, Hb typing, and C-reactive protein were assessed. Anemia was defined as Hb <11.0 g/dl in children <5 years of age or <11.5 g/dl in children 5–12 years. We enrolled 299 children; 57.9% were female and the mean (SD) age was 6.3 (2.9) years. The mean (SD) CD4% and HIV-RNA were 20% (4.6) and 4.6 (0.6) log10 copies/ml, respectively. The mean (SD) Hb and serum ferritin were 11.2 (1.1) g/dl and 78.3 (76.4) μg/liter, respectively. The overall iron deficiency anemia (IDA) prevalence was 2.7%. One hundred and forty-eight (50%) children had anemia, mostly of a mild degree. Of these, 69 (46.6%) had the thalassemia trait, 62 (41.8%) had anemia of chronic disease (ACD), 9 (6.1%) had thalassemia diseases, 3 (2.0%) had iron deficiency anemia, and 5 (3.4%) had IDA and the thalassemia trait. The thalassemia trait was not associated with increased serum ferritin levels. Mild anemia is common in ARV-naïve Thai and Cambodian children without advanced HIV. However, IDA prevalence is low; with the majority of cases caused by ACD. A routine prescription of iron supplement in anemic HIV-infected children without laboratory confirmation of IDA should be discouraged, especially in regions with a high prevalence of thalassemia and low prevalence of IDA.
PMCID: PMC3505043  PMID: 22734817
20.  Minihepcidins are rationally designed small peptides that mimic hepcidin activity in mice and may be useful for the treatment of iron overload 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2011;121(12):4880-4888.
Iron overload is the hallmark of hereditary hemochromatosis and a complication of iron-loading anemias such as β-thalassemia. Treatment can be burdensome and have significant side effects, and new therapeutic options are needed. Iron overload in hereditary hemochromatosis and β-thalassemia intermedia is caused by hepcidin deficiency. Although transgenic hepcidin replacement in mouse models of these diseases prevents iron overload or decreases its potential toxicity, natural hepcidin is prohibitively expensive for human application and has unfavorable pharmacologic properties. Here, we report the rational design of hepcidin agonists based on the mutagenesis of hepcidin and the hepcidin-binding region of ferroportin and computer modeling of their docking. We identified specific hydrophobic/aromatic residues required for hepcidin-ferroportin binding and obtained evidence in vitro that a thiol-disulfide interaction between ferroportin C326 and the hepcidin disulfide cage may stabilize binding. Guided by this model, we showed that 7–9 N-terminal amino acids of hepcidin, including a single thiol cysteine, comprised the minimal structure that retained hepcidin activity, as shown by the induction of ferroportin degradation in reporter cells. Further modifications to increase resistance to proteolysis and oral bioavailability yielded minihepcidins that, after parenteral or oral administration to mice, lowered serum iron levels comparably to those after parenteral native hepcidin. Moreover, liver iron concentrations were lower in mice chronically treated with minihepcidins than those in mice treated with solvent alone. Minihepcidins may be useful for the treatment of iron overload disorders.
PMCID: PMC3225996  PMID: 22045566
21.  Anemia in Inflammatory Bowel Disease Outpatients: Prevalence, Risk Factors, and Etiology 
BioMed Research International  2015;2015:728925.
Anemia is common in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). However, epidemiological studies of nonwestern IBD populations are limited and may be confounded by demographic, socioeconomic, and disease-related influences. This study evaluated the prevalence, risk factors, and etiology of anemia in Brazilian outpatients with IBD. Methods. In this cross-sectional study, 100 Crohn's disease (CD) patients and 100 ulcerative colitis (UC) subjects were assessed. Anemia workup included complete blood count, ferritin, transferrin saturation, serum levels of folic acid and vitamin B12, and C-reactive protein (CRP) concentration. Results. The overall prevalence of anemia in IBD was 21%. There was no significant difference in the prevalence of anemia between CD subjects (24%) and UC (18%). Moderate disease activity (OR: 3.48, 95% CI, 1.95–9.64, P = 0.002) and elevated CRP levels (OR: 1.8, 95% CI, 1.04–3.11, P = 0.02) were independently associated with anemia. The most common etiologies of anemia found in both groups were iron deficiency anemia (IDA; 10% on CD and 6% on UC) followed by the anemia of chronic disease (ACD; 6% for both groups). Conclusions. In Brazilian IBD outpatients, anemia is highly concurrent condition. Disease moderate activity as well as increased CRP was strongly associated with comorbid anemia. IDA and/or ACD were the most common etiologies.
PMCID: PMC4331158
22.  Increased serum hepcidin-25 level and increased tumor expression of hepcidin mRNA are associated with metastasis of renal cell carcinoma 
BMC Cancer  2009;9:270.
Hepcidin has an important role in iron metabolism. We investigated whether hepcidin was involved in renal cell carcinoma (RCC).
We measured serum hepcidin-25 levels in 32 patients by liquid chromatograpy (LC)-mass spectrometry (MS)/MS, and assessed hepcidin mRNA expression in paired tumor and non-tumor tissue samples from the surgical specimens of 53 consecutive patients with RCC by real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction.
The serum hepcidin-25 level was higher in patients with metastatic RCC than nonmetastatic RCC (P < 0.0001), and was positively correlated with the serum interleukin-6 and C-reactive protein levels (P < 0.001). Expression of hepcidin mRNA was lower in tumor tissues than in non-tumor tissues (P < 0.0001). The serum hepcidin-25 level was not correlated with the expression of hepcidin mRNA in the corresponding tumor tissue specimens from 32 patients. Hepcidin mRNA expression in tumor tissue was correlated with metastatic potential, but not with histological differentiation or tumor stage. Kaplan-Meier analysis showed that over expression of hepcidin mRNA was related to shorter overall survival in RCC patients. Univariate analysis (Cox proportional hazards model) showed that the hepcidin mRNA level was an independent prognostic factor for overall survival.
Our findings suggest that a high serum hepcidin-25 level may indicate the progression of RCC, and that upregulation of hepcidin mRNA expression in tumor tissue may be related to increased metastatic potential.
PMCID: PMC2729778  PMID: 19656379
23.  Comparative evaluation of the effects of treatment with tocilizumab and TNF-α inhibitors on serum hepcidin, anemia response and disease activity in rheumatoid arthritis patients 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2013;15(5):R141.
Anemia of inflammation (AI) is a common complication of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and has a negative impact on RA symptoms and quality of life. Upregulation of hepcidin by inflammatory cytokines has been implicated in AI. In this study, we evaluated and compared the effects of IL-6 and TNF-α blocking therapies on anemia, disease activity, and iron-related parameters including serum hepcidin in RA patients.
Patients (n = 93) were treated with an anti-IL-6 receptor antibody (tocilizumab) or TNF-α inhibitors for 16 weeks. Major disease activity indicators and iron-related parameters including serum hepcidin-25 were monitored before and 2, 4, 8, and 16 weeks after the initiation of treatment. Effects of tocilizumab and infliximab (anti-TNF-α antibody) on cytokine-induced hepcidin expression in hepatoma cells were analyzed by quantitative real-time PCR.
Anemia at base line was present in 66% of patients. Baseline serum hepcidin-25 levels were correlated positively with serum ferritin, C-reactive protein (CRP), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) levels and Disease Activity Score 28 (DAS28). Significant improvements in anemia and disease activity, and reductions in serum hepcidin-25 levels were observed within 2 weeks in both groups, and these effects were more pronounced in the tocilizumab group than in the TNF-α inhibitors group. Serum hepcidin-25 reduction by the TNF-α inhibitor therapy was accompanied by a decrease in serum IL-6, suggesting that the effect of TNF-α on the induction of hepcidin-25 was indirect. In in vitro experiments, stimulation with the cytokine combination of IL-6+TNF-α induced weaker hepcidin expression than did with IL-6 alone, and this induction was completely suppressed by tocilizumab but not by infliximab.
Hepcidin-mediated iron metabolism may contribute to the pathogenesis of RA-related anemia. In our cohort, tocilizumab was more effective than TNF-α inhibitors for improving anemia and normalizing iron metabolism in RA patients by inhibiting hepcidin production.
PMCID: PMC3978580  PMID: 24286116
24.  A Strong Anti-Inflammatory Signature Revealed by Liver Transcription Profiling of Tmprss6−/− Mice 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e69694.
Control of systemic iron homeostasis is interconnected with the inflammatory response through the key iron regulator, the antimicrobial peptide hepcidin. We have previously shown that mice with iron deficiency anemia (IDA)-low hepcidin show a pro-inflammatory response that is blunted in iron deficient-high hepcidin Tmprss6 KO mice. The transcriptional response associated with chronic hepcidin overexpression due to genetic inactivation of Tmprss6 is unknown. By using whole genome transcription profiling of the liver and analysis of spleen immune-related genes we identified several functional pathways differentially expressed in Tmprss6 KO mice, compared to IDA animals and thus irrespective of the iron status. In the effort of defining genes potentially targets of Tmprss6 we analyzed liver gene expression changes according to the genotype and independently of treatment. Tmprss6 inactivation causes down-regulation of liver pathways connected to immune and inflammatory response as well as spleen genes related to macrophage activation and inflammatory cytokines production. The anti-inflammatory status of Tmprss6 KO animals was confirmed by the down-regulation of pathways related to immunity, stress response and intracellular signaling in both liver and spleen after LPS treatment. Opposite to Tmprss6 KO mice, Hfe−/− mice are characterized by iron overload with inappropriately low hepcidin levels. Liver expression profiling of Hfe−/− deficient versus iron loaded mice show the opposite expression of some of the genes modulated by the loss of Tmprss6. Altogether our results confirm the anti-inflammatory status of Tmprss6 KO mice and identify new potential target pathways/genes of Tmprss6.
PMCID: PMC3726786  PMID: 23922777
25.  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

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