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1.  Hepcidin response to acute iron intake and chronic iron loading in dysmetabolic iron overload syndrome 
Background
The pathogenesis of dysmetabolic iron overload syndrome (DIOS) is still unclear. Hepcidin is the key regulator of iron homeostasis controlling iron absorption and macrophage release.
Aim
To investigate hepcidin regulation by iron in DIOS.
Methods
We analysed urinary hepcidin at baseline and 24 h after a 65 mg oral iron dose in 24 patients at diagnosis and after iron depletion (n=13) and compared data with those previously observed in 23 healthy controls. Serum iron indices, liver histology and metabolic data were available for all patients.
Results
At diagnosis, hepcidin values were significantly higher than in controls (P<0.001). After iron depletion, hepcidin levels decreased to normal values in all patients. At baseline, a significant response of hepcidin to iron challenge was observed only in the subgroup with lower basal hepcidin concentration (P=0.007). In iron-depleted patients, urinary hepcidin significantly increased after oral iron test (P=0.006).
Conclusions
Ours findings suggest that in DIOS, the progression of iron accumulation is counteracted by the increase in hepcidin production and progressive reduction of iron absorption, explaining why these patients develop a mild–moderate iron overload that tends to a plateau.
doi:10.1111/j.1478-3231.2011.02520.x
PMCID: PMC4048852  PMID: 21733088
2.  Patatin-like phospholipase domain containing-3 gene I148M polymorphism, steatosis, and liver damage in hereditary hemochromatosis 
AIM: To investigate whether the patatin-like phospholipase domain containing-3 gene (PNPLA3) I148M polymorphism is associated with steatosis, fibrosis stage, and cirrhosis in hereditary hemochromatosis (HH).
METHODS: We studied 174 consecutive unrelated homozygous for the C282Y HFE mutation of HH (C282Y+/+ HH) patients from Northern Italy, for whom the presence of cirrhosis could be determined based on histological or clinical criteria, without excessive alcohol intake (< 30/20 g/d in males or females) or hepatitis B virus and hepatitis C virus viral hepatitis. Steatosis was evaluated in 123 patients by histology (n = 100) or ultrasound (n = 23). The PNPLA3 rs738409 single nucleotide polymorphism, encoding for the p.148M protein variant, was genotyped by a Taqman assay (assay on demand, Applied Biosystems). The association of the PNPLA3 I148M protein variant (p.I148M) with steatosis, fibrosis stage, and cirrhosis was evaluated by logistic regression analysis.
RESULTS: PNPLA3 genotype was not associated with metabolic parameters, including body mass index (BMI), the presence of diabetes, and lipid levels, but the presence of the p.148M variant at risk was independently associated with steatosis [odds ratio (OR) 1.84 per p.148M allele, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.05-3.31; P = 0.037], independently of BMI and alanine aminotransaminase (ALT) levels. The p.148M variant was also associated with higher aspartate aminotransferase (P = 0.0014) and ALT levels (P = 0.017) at diagnosis, independently of BMI and the severity of iron overload. In patients with liver biopsy, the 148M variant was independently associated with the severity (stage) of fibrosis (estimated coefficient 0.56 ± 0.27, P = 0.041). In the overall series of patients, the p.148M variant was associated with cirrhosis in lean (P = 0.049), but not in overweight patients (P = not significant). At logistic regression analysis, cirrhosis was associated with BMI ≥ 25 (OR 1.82, 95% CI: 1.02-3.55), ferritin > 1000 ng/mL at diagnosis (OR 19.3, 95% CI: 5.3-125), and with the G allele in patients with BMI < 25 (OR 3.26, 95% CI: 1.3-10.3).
CONCLUSION: The PNPLA3 I148M polymorphism may represent a permissive factor for fibrosis progression in patients with C282Y+/+ HH.
doi:10.3748/wjg.v18.i22.2813
PMCID: PMC3374985  PMID: 22719190
Fatty liver; Fibrosis; Hemochromatosis; HFE protein; Iron overload; Patatin-like phospholipase domain containing-3 gene; Steatosis
3.  Hepcidin Expression in Iron Overload Diseases Is Variably Modulated by Circulating Factors 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e36425.
Hepcidin is a regulatory hormone that plays a major role in controlling body iron homeostasis. Circulating factors (holotransferrin, cytokines, erythroid regulators) might variably contribute to hepcidin modulation in different pathological conditions. There are few studies analysing the relationship between hepcidin transcript and related protein expression profiles in humans. Our aims were: a. to measure hepcidin expression at either hepatic, serum and urinary level in three paradigmatic iron overload conditions (hemochromatosis, thalassemia and dysmetabolic iron overload syndrome) and in controls; b. to measure mRNA hepcidin expression in two different hepatic cell lines (HepG2 and Huh-7) exposed to patients and controls sera to assess whether circulating factors could influence hepcidin transcription in different pathological conditions. Our findings suggest that hepcidin assays reflect hepatic hepcidin production, but also indicate that correlation is not ideal, likely due to methodological limits and to several post-trascriptional events. In vitro study showed that THAL sera down-regulated, HFE-HH and C-NAFLD sera up-regulated hepcidin synthesis. HAMP mRNA expression in Huh-7 cells exposed to sera form C-Donors, HFE-HH and THAL reproduced, at lower level, the results observed in HepG2, suggesting the important but not critical role of HFE in hepcidin regulation.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0036425
PMCID: PMC3346721  PMID: 22586470
4.  Hepcidin modulation in human diseases: From research to clinic 
By modulating hepcidin production, an organism controls intestinal iron absorption, iron uptake and mobilization from stores to meet body iron need. In recent years there has been important advancement in our knowledge of hepcidin regulation that also has implications for understanding the physiopathology of some human disorders. Since the discovery of hepcidin and the demonstration of its pivotal role in iron homeostasis, there has been a substantial interest in developing a reliable assay of the hormone in biological fluids. Measurement of hepcidin in biological fluids can improve our understanding of iron diseases and be a useful tool for diagnosis and clinical management of these disorders. We reviewed the literature and our own research on hepcidin to give an updated status of the situation in this rapidly evolving field.
doi:10.3748/wjg.15.538
PMCID: PMC2653344  PMID: 19195055
Hepcidin; Iron homeostasis; Erythropoiesis; Hemochromatosis; Anemia; Liver diseases
5.  Iron Metabolism in Thalassemia and Sickle Cell Disease. 
There are two main mechanisms by which iron overload develops in thalassemias: increased iron absorption due to ineffective erythropoiesis and blood transfusions. In nontransfused patients with severe thalassemia, abnormal dietary iron absorption increases body iron burden between 2 and 5 g per year. If regular transfusions are required, this doubles the rate of iron accumulation leading to earlier massive iron overload and iron-related damage. Iron metabolism largely differs between thalassemias and sickle cell disease, but chronic transfusion therapy partially normalize many of the disparities between the diseases, making iron overload an important issue to be considered in the management of patients with sickle cell disease too. The present review summarizes the actual knowledge on the regulatory pathways of iron homeostasis. In particular, the data presented indicate the inextricably link between erythropoiesis and iron metabolism and the key role of hepcidin in coordinating iron procurement according to erythropoietic requirement. The role of erythropoietin, hypoxia, erythroid-dependent soluble factors and iron in regulating hepcidin transcription are discussed as well as differences and similarities in iron homeostasis between thalassemia syndromes and sickle cell disease.
doi:10.4084/MJHID.2009.006
PMCID: PMC3033158  PMID: 21415988
6.  Revaluation of clinical and histological criteria for diagnosis of dysmetabolic iron overload syndrome 
AIM: To re-evaluate the diagnostic criteria of insulin resistance hepatic iron overload based on clinical, biochemical and histopathological findings.
METHODS: We studied 81 patients with hepatic iron overload not explained by known genetic and acquired causes. The metabolic syndrome (MS) was defined according to ATPIII criteria. Iron overload was assessed by liver biopsy. Liver histology was evaluated by Ishak’s score and iron accumulation by Deugnier’s score; steatosis was diagnosed when present in ≥ 5% of hepatocytes.
RESULTS: According to transferrin saturation levels, we observed significant differences in the amount of hepatic iron overload and iron distribution, as well as the number of metabolic abnormalities. Using Receiving Operating Curve analysis, we found that the presence of two components of the MS differentiated two groups with a statistically significant different hepatic iron overload (P < 0.0001). Patients with ≥ 2 metabolic alterations and steatosis had lower amount of hepatic iron, lower transferrin saturation and higher sinusoidal iron than patients with < 2 MS components and absence of steatosis.
CONCLUSION: In our patients, the presence of ≥ 2 alterations of the MS and hepatic steatosis was associated with a moderate form of iron overload with a prevalent sinusoidal distribution and a normal transferrin saturation, suggesting the existence of a peculiar pathogenetic mechanism of iron accumulation. These patients may have the typical dysmetabolic iron overload syndrome. By contrast, patients with transferrin saturation ≥ 60% had more severe iron overload, few or no metabolic abnormalities and a hemochromatosis-like pattern of iron overload.
doi:10.3748/wjg.14.4745
PMCID: PMC2739335  PMID: 18720534
Iron overload; Hepatic iron distribution; Transferrin saturation; Metabolic syndrome; Hepatic steatosis

Results 1-6 (6)