Serum hepcidin levels are innately low in HFE-related haemochromatosis but differ between C282Y-homozygotes with elevated and normal ferritin levels

Br J Haematol. 2008 Sep;142(6):979-85. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2141.2008.07273.x. Epub 2008 Jun 28.


HFE C282Y-homozygosity has been associated with low hepcidin expression, leading to increased ferritin levels. However, serum hepcidin protein levels have not been documented in humans. In the current study, we compared serum hepcidin levels of newly diagnosed HFE C282Y-homozygotes with (N = 15) and without (N = 7) elevated serum ferritin levels to levels of 40 controls (20 heterozygotes and 20 wild types). In addition, hepcidin levels of four C282Y homozygotes were investigated during the course of all phlebotomy treatment phases. Serum hepcidin levels were lower in HFE C282Y-homozygotes (median; 25th-75th percentile: 1.88; 0.78-2.77 nmol/l) compared to controls (2.74; 1.45-5.39). Hepcidin/ferritin ratios were also lower in homozygotes. Homozygotes with an elevated serum ferritin had a higher serum hepcidin but a lower hepcidin/ferritin ratio than those with normal ferritin (2.28; 1.62-3.23 nmol/l hepcidin vs. 0.80; 0.60-1.29 and 3.63; 2.72-7.59 pmol hepcidin/microg ferritin vs. 13.2; 5.15-14.2). Serum hepcidin decreased during the depletion phase of phlebotomy and remained low during maintenance. This study showed that serum hepcidin is innately low in HFE-related haemochromatosis. Elevated ferritin levels were associated with increased hepcidin levels while erythropoiesis lead to lower hepcidin levels. During depletion, therefore, hepcidin levels are decreased, which may exacerbate intestinal iron absorption.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides / blood*
  • Erythropoiesis
  • Female
  • Ferritins / blood
  • Hemochromatosis / blood*
  • Hemochromatosis / genetics
  • Hemochromatosis / surgery
  • Hemochromatosis Protein
  • Hepcidins
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / genetics*
  • Homozygote
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics*
  • Middle Aged
  • Phlebotomy


  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides
  • HAMP protein, human
  • HFE protein, human
  • Hemochromatosis Protein
  • Hepcidins
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Ferritins