Increased serum hepcidin levels in patients with porphyria cutanea tarda

J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2013 Jan;27(1):e68-74. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-3083.2012.04511.x. Epub 2012 Mar 16.


Background: Increased iron stores- are common in porphyria cutanea tarda (PCT) patients, but the pathophysiological pathways remain unknown. Down-regulation of hepcidin, a peptide which regulates systemic iron homeostasis, has been demonstrated in different conditions associated with PCT, such as haemochromatosis, chronic hepatitis C (CHC) and excessive alcohol intake. However, serum hepcidin levels have not yet been studied in PCT patients.

Objective: To measure the serum hepcidin levels in patients with PCT, CHC and control patients, and to assess the association of hepcidin with serum markers of inflammation, iron overload and oxidative stress.

Methods: Hepcidin levels were measured by a competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in serum samples of patients presenting PCT (n = 30), CHC (n = 31) and healthy volunteers (n = 52).

Results: The mean of serum hepcidin levels was significantly higher in the PCT group (129.6 ng/mL) in comparison with the mean values in the CHC (41.3 ng/mL) and control (70.8 ng/mL) groups. The serum concentration of ferritin and interleukin-6 (IL-6) was also significantly higher in the PCT group, and correlated strongly with the hepcidin levels. The PCT patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection showed significantly higher hepcidin levels than the group of CHC patients without porphyria.

Conclusion: Serum hepcidin levels are increased in patients with PCT suggesting that the mechanisms regulating iron homeostasis in PCT differ from those involved in other related disorders, such as haemochromatosis, HCV infection or alcohol abuse.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides / blood*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Disease Progression
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Ferritins / blood
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hemochromatosis / blood*
  • Hemochromatosis / diagnosis
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / blood*
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / diagnosis
  • Hepcidins
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology*
  • Porphyria Cutanea Tarda / blood*
  • Porphyria Cutanea Tarda / diagnosis
  • Regression Analysis
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Severity of Illness Index


  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides
  • Biomarkers
  • HAMP protein, human
  • Hepcidins
  • Ferritins