Hepcidin: a novel peptide hormone regulating iron metabolism

Clin Chim Acta. 2011 May 12;412(11-12):823-30. doi: 10.1016/j.cca.2011.02.014. Epub 2011 Feb 17.


Background: Hepcidin is a low-molecular weight hepatic peptide regulating iron homeostasis. Hepcidin inhibits the cellular efflux of iron by binding to, and inducing the internalization and degradation of, ferroportin, the exclusive iron exporter in iron-transporting cells. It has been recently recognized as a main hormone behind anemia of chronic disease.

Method: A comprehensive literature search was conducted from the websites of Pubmed Central, the US National Library of Medicine's digital archive of life sciences literature (http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/) and the National Library of Medicine (http://www.ncbl.nlm.nih.gov). The data was also assessed from journals and books that published relevant articles in this field.

Result: Hepcidin regulates iron uptake constantly on a daily basis, to maintain sufficient iron stores for erythropoiesis. Hepcidin, by its iron regulatory action on iron metabolism may be expected to have an important role in immune regulation, inflammatory diseases and malignancies. Hepcidin is the underlying cause of anemia in these clinical settings.

Conclusion: Hepcidin analysis may prove to be a novel tool for differential diagnosis and monitoring of disorders of iron metabolism, and establishment of therapeutic measures in various disease conditions like hereditary hemochromatosis, anemia associated with chronic kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis and cancers.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides / analysis
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides / chemistry
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides / genetics
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides / metabolism*
  • Clinical Chemistry Tests
  • Hepcidins
  • Homeostasis
  • Hormones / chemistry
  • Hormones / genetics
  • Hormones / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Iron / metabolism*


  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides
  • HAMP protein, human
  • Hepcidins
  • Hormones
  • Iron