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1.  Hepcidin: A useful marker in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 
Annals of Thoracic Medicine  2012;7(1):31-35.
PURPOSE:
This study was designed to evaluate the levels of hepcidin in the serum of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
METHODS:
In the study, 74 male patients (ages 45-75) in a stable period for COPD were grouped as Group I: Mild COPD (n:25), Group II: Moderate COPD (n:24), and Group III: Severe COPD (n:25). Healthy non-smoker males were included in Group IV (n:35) as a control group. The differences of hepcidin level among all the groups were examined. Also, in the patient groups with COPD, hepcidin level was compared with age, body mass index, cigarette (package/year), blood parameters (iron, total iron binding capacity, ferritin, hemoglobin, hematocrit [hct]), respiratory function tests, and arterial blood gas results.
RESULTS:
Although there was no difference between the healthy control group and the mild COPD patient group (P=0.781) in terms of hepcidin level, there was a difference between the moderate (P=0.004) and the severe COPD patient groups (P=0.002). The hepcidin level of the control group was found to be higher than the moderate and severe COPD patient groups. In the severe COPD patients, hepcidin level increased with the increase in serum iron (P=0.000), hct (P=0.009), ferritin levels (P=0.012), and arterial oxygen saturation (SaO2, P=0.000).
CONCLUSION:
The serum hepcidin level that is decreased in severe COPD brings into mind that it may play a role in the mechanism to prevent hypoxemia. The results suggest that serum hepcidin level may be a useful marker in COPD. Larger prospective studies are needed to confirm our findings between hepcidin and COPD.
doi:10.4103/1817-1737.91562
PMCID: PMC3277039  PMID: 22347348
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; hepcidin; hypoxemia
2.  Tubular reabsorption and local production of urine hepcidin-25 
BMC Nephrology  2013;14:70.
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2369-14-70
PMCID: PMC3623618  PMID: 23531037
AKI; β2-microglobulin; Hepcidin; Megalin; Kidney tubules
3.  Evidence for a Lack of a Direct Transcriptional Suppression of the Iron Regulatory Peptide Hepcidin by Hypoxia-Inducible Factors 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(11):e7875.
Background
Hepcidin is a major regulator of iron metabolism and plays a key role in anemia of chronic disease, reducing intestinal iron uptake and release from body iron stores. Hypoxia and chemical stabilizers of the hypoxia-inducible transcription factor (HIF) have been shown to suppress hepcidin expression. We therefore investigated the role of HIF in hepcidin regulation.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Hepcidin mRNA was down-regulated in hepatoma cells by chemical HIF stabilizers and iron chelators, respectively. In contrast, the response to hypoxia was variable. The decrease in hepcidin mRNA was not reversed by HIF-1α or HIF-2α knock-down or by depletion of the HIF and iron regulatory protein (IRP) target transferrin receptor 1 (TfR1). However, the response of hepcidin to hypoxia and chemical HIF inducers paralleled the regulation of transferrin receptor 2 (TfR2), one of the genes critical to hepcidin expression. Hepcidin expression was also markedly and rapidly decreased by serum deprivation, independent of transferrin-bound iron, and by the phosphatidylinositol 3 (PI3) kinase inhibitor LY294002, indicating that growth factors are required for hepcidin expression in vitro. Hepcidin promoter constructs mirrored the response of mRNA levels to interleukin-6 and bone morphogenetic proteins, but not consistently to hypoxia or HIF stabilizers, and deletion of the putative HIF binding motifs did not alter the response to different hypoxic stimuli. In mice exposed to carbon monoxide, hypoxia or the chemical HIF inducer N-oxalylglycine, liver hepcidin 1 mRNA was elevated rather than decreased.
Conclusions/Significance
Taken together, these data indicate that hepcidin is neither a direct target of HIF, nor indirectly regulated by HIF through induction of TfR1 expression. Hepcidin mRNA expression in vitro is highly sensitive to the presence of serum factors and PI3 kinase inhibition and parallels TfR2 expression.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0007875
PMCID: PMC2773926  PMID: 19924283
4.  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.
doi:10.3346/jkms.2010.25.3.348
PMCID: PMC2826733  PMID: 20191031
Arthritis, Rheumatoid; Anemia; Hepcidin; Prohepcidin
5.  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.
doi:10.2119/2006-00057.Fujita
PMCID: PMC1869620  PMID: 17515961
6.  Minihepcidins are rationally designed small peptides that mimic hepcidin activity in mice and may be useful for the treatment of iron overload 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2011;121(12):4880-4888.
Iron overload is the hallmark of hereditary hemochromatosis and a complication of iron-loading anemias such as β-thalassemia. Treatment can be burdensome and have significant side effects, and new therapeutic options are needed. Iron overload in hereditary hemochromatosis and β-thalassemia intermedia is caused by hepcidin deficiency. Although transgenic hepcidin replacement in mouse models of these diseases prevents iron overload or decreases its potential toxicity, natural hepcidin is prohibitively expensive for human application and has unfavorable pharmacologic properties. Here, we report the rational design of hepcidin agonists based on the mutagenesis of hepcidin and the hepcidin-binding region of ferroportin and computer modeling of their docking. We identified specific hydrophobic/aromatic residues required for hepcidin-ferroportin binding and obtained evidence in vitro that a thiol-disulfide interaction between ferroportin C326 and the hepcidin disulfide cage may stabilize binding. Guided by this model, we showed that 7–9 N-terminal amino acids of hepcidin, including a single thiol cysteine, comprised the minimal structure that retained hepcidin activity, as shown by the induction of ferroportin degradation in reporter cells. Further modifications to increase resistance to proteolysis and oral bioavailability yielded minihepcidins that, after parenteral or oral administration to mice, lowered serum iron levels comparably to those after parenteral native hepcidin. Moreover, liver iron concentrations were lower in mice chronically treated with minihepcidins than those in mice treated with solvent alone. Minihepcidins may be useful for the treatment of iron overload disorders.
doi:10.1172/JCI57693
PMCID: PMC3225996  PMID: 22045566
7.  A Novel Immunological Assay for Hepcidin Quantification in Human Serum 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(2):e4581.
Background
Hepcidin is a 25-aminoacid cysteine-rich iron regulating peptide. Increased hepcidin concentrations lead to iron sequestration in macrophages, contributing to the pathogenesis of anaemia of chronic disease whereas decreased hepcidin is observed in iron deficiency and primary iron overload diseases such as hereditary hemochromatosis. Hepcidin quantification in human blood or urine may provide further insights for the pathogenesis of disorders of iron homeostasis and might prove a valuable tool for clinicians for the differential diagnosis of anaemia. This study describes a specific and non-operator demanding immunoassay for hepcidin quantification in human sera.
Methods and Findings
An ELISA assay was developed for measuring hepcidin serum concentration using a recombinant hepcidin25-His peptide and a polyclonal antibody against this peptide, which was able to identify native hepcidin. The ELISA assay had a detection range of 10–1500 µg/L and a detection limit of 5.4 µg/L. The intra- and interassay coefficients of variance ranged from 8–15% and 5–16%, respectively. Mean linearity and recovery were 101% and 107%, respectively. Mean hepcidin levels were significantly lower in 7 patients with juvenile hemochromatosis (12.8 µg/L) and 10 patients with iron deficiency anemia (15.7 µg/L) and higher in 7 patients with Hodgkin lymphoma (116.7 µg/L) compared to 32 age-matched healthy controls (42.7 µg/L).
Conclusions
We describe a new simple ELISA assay for measuring hepcidin in human serum with sufficient accuracy and reproducibility.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0004581
PMCID: PMC2640459  PMID: 19238200
8.  Association of Hepcidin mRNA Expression With Hepatocyte Iron Accumulation and Effects of Antiviral Therapy in Chronic Hepatitis C Infection 
Hepatitis Monthly  2014;14(11):e21184.
Background:
Iron overload is frequently observed in patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC) and is associated with the increased risk of liver fibrosis and carcinogenesis. Hepcidin is a regulator of iron homeostasis and a component of innate immunity. Based on experimental studies, iron overload might be a result of low hepcidin synthesis in CHC.
Objectives:
The aim of this case-control study was to assess hepcidin mRNA expression in liver tissue of patients with CHC in terms of iron metabolism parameters, hemochromatosis (HFE) gene mutations, disease activity, and efficacy of antiviral treatment with pegylated interferon and ribavirin.
Patients and Methods:
A total of 31 patients with CHC, who were qualified for antiviral therapy, were compared with 19 patients with chronic hepatitis B (CHB). In both groups, liver function tests and serum iron parameters were assayed and hepcidin mRNA expression was measured in liver specimens using real time PCR with normalization to reference genes mRNA of stable expression.
Results:
Patients with CHC had lower hepcidin mRNA expression and more frequently iron deposits in hepatocytes than subjects with CHB did. In CHC group, hepcidin mRNA expression was positively correlated with alanine aminotransferase activity and serum iron concentration. Low expression of hepcidin had no correlation with tissue iron overload in those with CHC. In univariate analysis, HCV viral load and efficacy of antiviral treatment were not significantly associated with hepcidin mRNA expression.
Conclusions:
Further studies on the role of hepcidin in pathogenesis of CHC are needed to assess the potency of its use in antiviral treatment.
doi:10.5812/hepatmon.21184
PMCID: PMC4286710  PMID: 25598789
Hepatitis C; Hepcidin; Iron Overload; Liver; Interferon-alpha
9.  Hepcidin-25 negatively predicts left ventricular mass index in chronic kidney disease patients 
World Journal of Nephrology  2013;2(2):38-43.
AIM: To assess the correlation between the serum hepcidin-25 level and left ventricular mass index.
METHODS: This study was a cross-sectional study conducted between March 2009 and April 2010. Demographic and biochemical data, including the serum hepcidin-25 level, were collected for chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients. Two-dimensional echocardiography was performed to determine the left ventricle mass (LVM), left ventricular mass index (LVMI), interventricular septum thickness (IVSd), left ventricle posterior wall thickness (LVPW), right ventricular dimension (RVD), left atrium (LA) and ejection fraction (EF).
RESULTS: A total of 146 patients with stage 1 to 5 CKD were enrolled. Serum hepcidin-25 levels were 16.51 ± 5.2, 17.59 ± 5.32, 17.38 ± 6.47, 19.98 ± 4.98 and 22.03 ± 4.8 ng/mL for stage 1 to 5 CKD patients, respectively. Hepcidin-25 level was independently predicted by the serum ferritin level (β = 0.6, P = 0.002) and the estimated glomerular filtration rate (β = -0.48, P = 0.04). There were negative correlations between the serum hepcidin level and the LVM and LVMI (P = 0.04 and P = 0.005, respectively). Systolic blood pressure (BP) was positively correlated with the LVMI (P = 0.005). In the multivariate analysis, a decreased serum hepcidin-25 level was independently associated with a higher LVMI (β = -0.28, 95%CI: -0.48 - -0.02, P = 0.006) after adjusting for body mass index, age and systolic BP.
CONCLUSION: A lower serum hepcidin level is associated with a higher LVMI in CKD patients. Low hepcidin levels may be independently correlated with unfavorable cardiovascular outcomes in this population.
doi:10.5527/wjn.v2.i2.38
PMCID: PMC3782224  PMID: 24175264
Hepcidin-25; Ferritin; Chronic kidney disease; Left ventricular mass; Left ventricular mass index
10.  Iron status in patients with chronic heart failure 
European Heart Journal  2012;34(11):827-834.
Aims
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).
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1093/eurheartj/ehs377
PMCID: PMC3697803  PMID: 23178646
Heart failure; Iron deficiency; Ferritin; Hepcidin; Prognosis
11.  Modulation of bone morphogenetic protein signaling in vivo regulates systemic iron balance 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2007;117(7):1933-1939.
Systemic iron balance is regulated by hepcidin, a peptide hormone secreted by the liver. By decreasing cell surface expression of the iron exporter ferroportin, hepcidin decreases iron absorption from the intestine and iron release from reticuloendothelial stores. Hepcidin excess has been implicated in the pathogenesis of anemia of chronic disease, while hepcidin deficiency has a key role in the pathogenesis of the iron overload disorder hemochromatosis. We have recently shown that hemojuvelin is a coreceptor for bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling and that BMP signaling positively regulates hepcidin expression in liver cells in vitro. Here we show that BMP-2 administration increases hepcidin expression and decreases serum iron levels in vivo. We also show that soluble hemojuvelin (HJV.Fc) selectively inhibits BMP induction of hepcidin expression in vitro and that administration of HJV.Fc decreases hepcidin expression, increases ferroportin expression, mobilizes splenic iron stores, and increases serum iron levels in vivo. These data support a role for modulators of the BMP signaling pathway in treating diseases of iron overload and anemia of chronic disease.
doi:10.1172/JCI31342
PMCID: PMC1904317  PMID: 17607365
12.  Silencing of hepcidin enforces the apoptosis in iron-induced human cardiomyocytes 
Background
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.
Methods
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).
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1745-6673-9-11
PMCID: PMC3995429  PMID: 24641804
Hepcidin siRNA; GATA-4; Apoptosis; Human cardiomyocytes
13.  Is the iron regulatory hormone hepcidin a risk factor for alcoholic liver disease? 
Despite heavy consumption over a long period of time, only a small number of alcoholics develop alcoholic liver disease. This alludes to the possibility that other factors, besides alcohol, may be involved in the progression of the disease. Over the years, many such factors have indeed been identified, including iron. Despite being crucial for various important biological processes, iron can also be harmful due to its ability to catalyze Fenton chemistry. Alcohol and iron have been shown to interact synergistically to cause liver injury. Iron-mediated cell signaling has been reported to be involved in the pathogenesis of experimental alcoholic liver disease. Hepcidin is an iron-regulatory hormone synthesized by the liver, which plays a pivotal role in iron homeostasis. Both acute and chronic alcohol exposure suppress hepcidin expression in the liver. The sera of patients with alcoholic liver disease, particularly those exhibiting higher serum iron indices, have also been reported to display reduced prohepcidin levels. Alcohol-mediated oxidative stress is involved in the inhibition of hepcidin promoter activity and transcription in the liver. This in turn leads to an increase in intestinal iron transport and liver iron storage. Hepcidin is expressed primarily in hepatocytes. It is noteworthy that both hepatocytes and Kupffer cells are involved in the progression of alcoholic liver disease. However, the activation of Kupffer cells and TNF-α signaling has been reported not to be involved in the down-regulation of hepcidin expression by alcohol in the liver. Alcohol acts within the parenchymal cells of the liver to suppress the synthesis of hepcidin. Due to its crucial role in the regulation of body iron stores, hepcidin may act as a secondary risk factor in the progression of alcoholic liver disease. The clarification of the mechanisms by which alcohol disrupts iron homeostasis will allow for further understanding of the pathogenesis of alcoholic liver disease.
doi:10.3748/wjg.15.1186
PMCID: PMC2658862  PMID: 19291818
Alcohol; Hepatocyte; Kupffer cells; Oxidative stress; Second hit
14.  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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0075568
PMCID: PMC3785497  PMID: 24086573
15.  Testosterone Administration Inhibits Hepcidin Transcription and is Associated with Increased Iron Incorporation into Red Blood Cells 
Aging cell  2013;12(2):280-291.
Testosterone administration increases hemoglobin levels and has been used to treat anemia of chronic disease. Erythrocytosis is the most frequent adverse event associated with testosterone therapy of hypogonadal men, especially older men. However, the mechanisms by which testosterone increases hemoglobin remain unknown.
Testosterone administration in male and female mice was associated with a greater increase in hemoglobin and hematocrit, reticulocyte count, reticulocyte hemoglobin concentration, and serum iron and transferring saturation than placebo. Testosterone downregulated hepatic hepcidin mRNA expression, upregulated renal erythropoietin mRNA expression, and increased erythropoietin levels. Testosterone-induced suppression of hepcidin expression was independent of its effects on erythropoietin or hypoxia-sensing mechanisms. Transgenic mice with liver-specific constitutive hepcidin over-expression failed to exhibit the expected increase in hemoglobin in response to testosterone administration. Testosterone upregulated splenic ferroportin expression and reduced iron retention in spleen. After intravenous administration of transferrin-bound 58Fe, the amount of 58Fe incorporated into red blood cells was significantly greater in testosterone-treated mice than in placebo-treated mice. Serum from testosterone-treated mice stimulated hemoglobin synthesis in K562 erythroleukemia cells more than that from vehicle-treated mice. Testosterone administration promoted the association of androgen receptor (AR) with Smad1 and Smad4 to reduce their binding to BMP-response elements in hepcidin promoter in the liver. Ectopic expression of AR in hepatocytes suppressed hepcidin transcription; this effect was blocked dose-dependently by AR antagonist flutamide. Testosterone did not affect hepcidin mRNA stability. Conclusion: Testosterone inhibits hepcidin transcription through its interaction with BMP-Smad signaling. Testosterone administration is associated with increased iron incorporation into red blood cells.
doi:10.1111/acel.12052
PMCID: PMC3602280  PMID: 23399021
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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0039783
PMCID: PMC3396629  PMID: 22808058
17.  Hepcidin antagonists for potential treatments of disorders with hepcidin excess 
The discovery of hepcidin clarified the basic mechanism of the control of systemic iron homeostasis. Hepcidin is mainly produced by the liver as a propeptide and processed by furin into the mature active peptide. Hepcidin binds ferroportin, the only cellular iron exporter, causing the internalization and degradation of both. Thus hepcidin blocks iron export from the key cells for dietary iron absorption (enterocytes), recycling of hemoglobin iron (the macrophages) and the release of storage iron from hepatocytes, resulting in the reduction of systemic iron availability. The BMP/HJV/SMAD pathway is the major regulator of hepcidin expression that responds to iron status. Also inflammation stimulates hepcidin via the IL6/STAT3 pathway with a support of an active BMP/HJV/SMAD pathway. In some pathological conditions hepcidin level is inadequately elevated and reduces iron availability in the body, resulting in anemia. These conditions occur in the genetic iron refractory iron deficiency anemia and the common anemia of chronic disease (ACD) or anemia of inflammation. Currently, there is no definite treatment for ACD. Erythropoiesis-stimulating agents and intravenous iron have been proposed in some cases but they are scarcely effective and may have adverse effects. Alternative approaches aimed to a pharmacological control of hepcidin expression have been attempted, targeting different regulatory steps. They include hepcidin sequestering agents (antibodies, anticalins, and aptamers), inhibitors of BMP/SMAD or of IL6/STAT3 pathway or of hepcidin transduction (siRNA/shRNA) or ferroportin stabilizers. In this review we summarized the biochemical interactions of the proteins involved in the BMP/HJV/SMAD pathway and its natural inhibitors, the murine and rat models with high hepcidin levels currently available and finally the progresses in the development of hepcidin antagonists, with particular attention to the role of heparins and heparin sulfate proteoglycans in hepcidin expression and modulation of the BMP6/SMAD pathway.
doi:10.3389/fphar.2014.00086
PMCID: PMC4009444  PMID: 24808863
hepcidin; heparin; anemia of chronic diseases; inflammation; iron metabolism
18.  Silencing airway epithelial cell-derived hepcidin exacerbates sepsis-induced acute lung injury 
Critical Care  2014;18(4):470.
Introduction
The production of antimicrobial peptides by airway epithelial cells is an important component of the innate immune response to pulmonary infection and inflammation. Hepcidin is a β-defensin-like antimicrobial peptide and acts as a principal iron regulatory hormone. Hepcidin is mostly produced by hepatocytes, but is also expressed by other cells, such as airway epithelial cells. However, nothing is known about its function in lung infections and inflammatory diseases. We therefore sought to investigate the role of airway epithelial cell-derived hepcidin in sepsis-induced acute lung injury.
Methods
Acute lung injury was induced by polymicrobial sepsis via cecal ligation and puncture (CLP) surgery. Adenovirus-mediated short hairpin RNA specific for the mouse hepcidin gene hepc1 and control adenovirus were intratracheally injected into mice. The adenovirus-mediated knockdown of hepcidin in airway epithelial cells was evaluated in vivo. Lung injury and the seven-day survival rate were assessed. The levels of hepcidin-related iron export protein ferroportin were measured, and the iron content and function of alveolar macrophages were evaluated.
Results
The hepcidin level in airway epithelial cells was upregulated during polymicrobial sepsis. The knockdown of airway epithelial cell-derived hepcidin aggravated the polymicrobial sepsis-induced lung injury and pulmonary bacterial infection and increased mortality (53.33% in Ad-shHepc1-treated mice versus 12.5% in Ad-shNeg-treated mice, P <0.05). The knockdown of hepcidin in airway epithelial cells also led to reduced ferroportin degradation and a low intracellular iron content in alveolar macrophages. Moreover, alveolar macrophages form the airway epithelial cell-derived hepcidin knockdown mice showed impaired phagocytic ability than those from the control mice.
Conclusions
Airway epithelial cell-derived hepcidin plays an important role in CLP-induced acute lung injury. The severe lung injury in the airway epithelial cell-derived hepcidin knockdown mice is at least partially related to the altered intracellular iron level and function of alveolar macrophages.
doi:10.1186/s13054-014-0470-8
PMCID: PMC4243715  PMID: 25096529
19.  Evaluation of the First Commercial Hepcidin ELISA for the Differential Diagnosis of Anemia of Chronic Disease and Iron Deficiency Anemia in Hospitalized Geriatric Patients 
ISRN Hematology  2012;2012:567491.
Introduction. Anemia is a frequent problem in hospitalized geriatric patients, and the anemia of chronic disease (ACD) and iron deficiency anemia (IDA) are the 2 most prevalent causes. The aim of the study was to assess the possible role of serum hepcidin in the differential diagnosis between ACD and IDA. Methods. We investigated serum hepcidin, iron status, anemia, and C-reactive protein in 39 consecutive geriatric patients with ACD and IDA. Serum hepcidin levels were determined using a commercial ELISA kit (DRG Instruments, Marburg, Germany). We also measured hepcidin in 26 healthy controls. Results. The serum hepcidin levels were not significantly higher in the 28 patients with ACD as compared to the 11 patients with IDA. Conclusions. The serum hepcidin levels measured using the commercial ELISA kit (DRG) do not appear to increase in older patients with ACD. It should be noted that an assay-specific problem could explain our results.
doi:10.5402/2012/567491
PMCID: PMC3302103  PMID: 22461996
20.  Gender-related variations in iron metabolism and liver diseases 
World Journal of Hepatology  2010;2(8):302-310.
The regulation of iron metabolism involves multiple organs including the duodenum, liver and bone marrow. The recent discoveries of novel iron-regulatory proteins have brought the liver to the forefront of iron homeostasis. The iron overload disorder, genetic hemochromatosis, is one of the most prevalent genetic diseases in individuals of Caucasian origin. Furthermore, patients with non-hemochromatotic liver diseases, such as alcoholic liver disease, chronic hepatitis C or nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, often exhibit elevated serum iron indices (ferritin, transferrin saturation) and mild to moderate hepatic iron overload. Clinical data indicate significant differences between men and women regarding liver injury in patients with alcoholic liver disease, chronic hepatitis C or nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. The penetrance of genetic hemochromatosis also varies between men and women. Hepcidin has been suggested to act as a modifier gene in genetic hemochromatosis. Hepcidin is a circulatory antimicrobial peptide synthesized by the liver. It plays a pivotal role in the regulation of iron homeostasis. Hepcidin has been shown to be regulated by iron, inflammation, oxidative stress, hypoxia, alcohol, hepatitis C and obesity. Sex and genetic background have also been shown to modulate hepcidin expression in mice. The role of gender in the regulation of human hepcidin gene expression in the liver is unknown. However, hepcidin may play a role in gender-based differences in iron metabolism and liver diseases. Better understanding of the mechanisms associated with gender-related differences in iron metabolism and chronic liver diseases may enable the development of new treatment strategies.
doi:10.4254/wjh.v2.i8.302
PMCID: PMC2999297  PMID: 21161013
Alcohol; Hepcidin; Hepatitis C; Hemochromatosis; Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis
21.  The bone morphogenetic protein-hepcidin axis as a therapeutic target in inflammatory bowel disease 
Inflammatory bowel diseases  2011;18(1):112-119.
Background
A debilitating anemia associated with low serum iron often accompanies inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Increased production of the iron regulatory hormone hepcidin is implicated in its pathogenesis and may also contribute to the inflammatory process itself. Hepcidin expression is dependent on bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) like BMP6, but the mechanisms that increase hepcidin levels during intestinal inflammation are not clear. Here, we test the hypothesis that inhibiting hepcidin expression may have beneficial effects in IBD, and also shed light on the mechanism of colitis-induced hepcidin up-regulation.
Methods
Mice with T cell transfer colitis were treated with vehicle or one of three anti-BMP reagents – HJV.Fc, a recombinant protein that prevents binding of BMPs to their receptor, LDN-193189, a small molecule inhibitor of BMP signal transduction, and an anti-BMP6 antibody. The effects of these reagents on colitis severity, liver hepcidin mRNA and serum iron were determined. The mechanism of hepcidin up-regulation was investigated by examining BMP6 expression and activity and the effects of IL-6 deficiency.
Results
All the anti-BMP reagents inhibited hepcidin expression and increased serum iron levels in the colitic mice. They also produced modest reductions in colon inflammatory cytokine expression. Although hepcidin up-regulation during colitis was dependent on BMP6, it was not associated with increased BMP6 expression or activity. IL-6 was required for increased hepcidin expression during colitis.
Conclusions
Inhibiting hepcidin expression may help to correct the anemia of IBD and may also attenuate intestinal inflammation. The mechanism of colitis-induced hepcidin up-regulation involves both BMP6 and IL-6.
doi:10.1002/ibd.21675
PMCID: PMC3139830  PMID: 21351217
Inflammation; iron; bone morphogenetic protein; hepcidin
22.  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.
Introduction
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/ar4323
PMCID: PMC3978580  PMID: 24286116
23.  The A736V TMPRSS6 polymorphism influences hepcidin and iron metabolism in chronic hemodialysis patients: TMPRSS6 and hepcidin in hemodialysis 
BMC Nephrology  2013;14:48.
Background
Aim of this study was to evaluate whether the A736V TMPRSS6 polymorphism, a major genetic determinant of iron metabolism in healthy subjects, influences serum levels of hepcidin, the hormone regulating iron metabolism, and erythropoiesis in chronic hemodialysis (CHD).
Methods
To this end, we considered 199 CHD patients from Northern Italy (157 with hepcidin evaluation), and 188 healthy controls without iron deficiency, matched for age and gender. Genetic polymorphisms were evaluated by allele specific polymerase chain reaction assays, and hepcidin quantified by mass spectrometry.
Results
Serum hepcidin levels were not different between the whole CHD population and controls (median 7.1, interquartile range (IQR) 0.55-17.1 vs. 7.4, 4.5-17.9 nM, respectively), but were higher in the CHD subgroup after exclusion of subjects with relative iron deficiency (p = 0.04). In CHD patients, the A736V TMPRSS6 polymorphism influenced serum hepcidin levels in individuals positive for mutations in the HFE gene of hereditary hemochromatosis (p < 0.0001). In particular, the TMPRSS6 736 V variant was associated with higher hepcidin levels (p = 0.017). At multivariate analysis, HFE and A736V TMPRSS6 genotypes predicted serum hepcidin independently of ferritin and C reactive protein (p = 0.048). In patients without acute inflammation and overt iron deficiency (C reactive protein <1 mg/dl and ferritin >30 ng/ml; n = 86), hepcidin was associated with lower mean corpuscular volume (p = 0.002), suggesting that it contributed to iron-restricted erythropoiesis. In line with previous results, in patients without acute inflammation and severe iron deficiency the “high hepcidin” 736 V TMPRSS6 variant was associated with higher erythropoietin maintenance dose (p = 0.016), independently of subclinical inflammation (p = 0.02).
Conclusions
The A736V TMPRSS6 genotype influences hepcidin levels, erythropoiesis, and anemia management in CHD patients. Evaluation of the effect of TMPRSS6 genotype on clinical outcomes in prospective studies in CHD may be useful to predict the outcomes of hepcidin manipulation, and to guide treatment personalization by optimizing anemia management.
doi:10.1186/1471-2369-14-48
PMCID: PMC3585892  PMID: 23433094
Anemia; Chronic kidney disease; Erythropoietin; Genetics; Inflammation; Iron; Hemodialysis; Hepcidin; Hfe gene; Matriptase-2; Tmprss6
24.  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.
doi:10.1136/gut.2003.022863
PMCID: PMC1774035  PMID: 15082594
hepcidin; chronic renal insufficiency; iron absorption; hereditary haemochromatosis; liver
25.  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.
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
Our data suggest that hepcidin lowering agents may provide a new therapeutic strategy to improve iron availability for erythropoiesis in CKD.
doi:10.1093/ndt/gfs584
PMCID: PMC3707526  PMID: 23345622
anemia; chronic kidney disease; hepcidin; iron; mouse model

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