Association between ferritin and hepcidin levels and inflammatory status in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus and obesity

Nutrition. 2015 Jan;31(1):51-7. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2014.04.019. Epub 2014 May 10.


Objective: The aim of this study was to determine the association between iron parameters and inflammation in obese individuals with and without type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM).

Methods: We studied 132 obese individuals (OB), 60 individuals with T2DM, 106 obese individuals with T2DM (T2DOB), and 146 controls (C). All of were men aged >30 y. Biochemical, iron nutrition, and oxidative stress parameters were determined. Peripheral mononuclear cells were isolated and total RNA was extracted to quantify tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, nuclear factor (NF)-κB, interleukin (IL)-6, toll-like receptor (TLR)-2/4 and hepcidin by quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction.

Results: OB, T2DM, and T2DOB individuals had higher ferritin, retinol-binding protein 4, and thiobarbituric acid reactive substance (TBAR) levels than controls. T2DOB and T2DM individuals showed high high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) levels and OB with and without T2DM had elevated levels of serum hepcidin. Heme oxygenase activity was high in OB and T2DM and there were no differences observed in superoxide dismutase and glutathione parameters. A correlation between TBARS and ferritin in T2DOB was observed (r = 0.31; P < 0.006). Multiple linear regression analysis showed an association between diabetes and obesity with ferritin, TBARS, and hsCRP levels. The upper quartiles of ferritin, TBARS and hepcidin showed an adjusted odd ratio for T2DM of 1.782, 2.250, and 4.370, respectively. TNF-α, IL-6, hepcidin, NF-κB, TLR-2/4 mRNA abundances were increased in T2DM and T2DOB.

Conclusion: Elevated hsCRP and hepcidin levels, and increased gene expression of TNF-α, IL-6, NF-κB, and TLR-2/4 in patients with diabetes, obesity, or both exacerbate and perpetuate the insulin resistance and inflammatory state.

Keywords: Diabetes; Ferritin; Hepcidin; Inflammation; Obesity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood*
  • Ferritins / blood*
  • Hepcidins / blood*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / blood*
  • Insulin / administration & dosage
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism
  • Iron, Dietary / administration & dosage
  • Iron, Dietary / blood
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Metformin / administration & dosage
  • Metformin / blood
  • Middle Aged
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Nutritional Status
  • Obesity / blood*
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Toll-Like Receptor 2 / metabolism
  • Toll-Like Receptor 4 / metabolism
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism


  • Hepcidins
  • IL6 protein, human
  • Insulin
  • Interleukin-6
  • Iron, Dietary
  • NF-kappa B
  • TLR2 protein, human
  • TLR4 protein, human
  • Toll-Like Receptor 2
  • Toll-Like Receptor 4
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Ferritins
  • Metformin