Regulators of hepcidin expression.


Institut de Recherche en Santé Digestive (IRSD), Université de Toulouse, INSERM, INRA, ENVT, UPS, Toulouse, France. Electronic address: [Email]


Iron, an essential nutrient, is required for many biological processes but is also toxic in excess. The lack of a mechanism to excrete excess iron makes it crucial for the body to regulate the amount of iron absorbed from the diet. This regulation is mediated by the hepatic hormone hepcidin. Hepcidin also controls iron release from macrophages that recycle iron and from hepatocytes that store iron. Hepcidin binds to the only known iron export protein, ferroportin, inducing its internalization and degradation and thus limiting the amount of iron released into the plasma. Important regulators of hepcidin, and therefore of systemic iron homeostasis, include plasma iron concentrations, body iron stores, infection and inflammation, hypoxia and erythropoiesis, and, to a lesser extent, testosterone. Dysregulation of hepcidin production contributes to the pathogenesis of many iron disorders: hepcidin deficiency causes iron overload in hereditary hemochromatosis and non-transfused β-thalassemia, whereas overproduction of hepcidin is associated with iron-restricted anemias seen in patients with chronic inflammatory diseases and inherited iron-refractory iron-deficiency anemia. The present review summarizes our current understanding of the molecular mechanisms and signaling pathways contributing to hepcidin regulation by these factors and highlights the issues that still need clarification.



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