Regulation of Hepcidin by Erythropoiesis: The Story So Far

Annu Rev Nutr. 2016 Jul 17;36:417-34. doi: 10.1146/annurev-nutr-071715-050731. Epub 2016 May 4.


Hepcidin is the master regulator of systemic iron homeostasis, facilitating iron balance by controlling intestinal iron absorption and recycling. Hepcidin levels are suppressed when erythropoiesis is stimulated, for example following acute blood loss, appropriately enhancing cellular iron export to the plasma to support production of new red blood cells. However, persistent increased and ineffective erythropoiesis, for example in thalassemia, results in sustained elevations in iron absorption, which cause iron overload with associated organ toxicities. The ligands, receptors, and canonical pathways by which iron loading and inflammation upregulate hepcidin expression have been largely established. However, although several mechanisms have been proposed, the means by which erythropoiesis causes hepcidin suppression have been unclear. The erythroid-derived hormone erythroferrone appears to be a convincing candidate for the link between increased erythropoiesis and hepcidin suppression. If confirmed to be clinically and physiologically relevant in humans, potentiation or inhibition of erythroferrone activity could be a crucial pharmaceutical strategy.

Keywords: erythroferrone; erythropoiesis; hepcidin; iron; thalassemia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Down-Regulation*
  • Erythropoiesis*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / cytology
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Hepcidins / agonists
  • Hepcidins / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Hepcidins / genetics
  • Hepcidins / metabolism
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Iron / metabolism
  • Ligands
  • Models, Biological*
  • Peptide Hormones / metabolism*
  • Up-Regulation


  • Erfe protein, human
  • HAMP protein, human
  • Hepcidins
  • Ligands
  • Peptide Hormones
  • Iron