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.