Iron is an essential biogenic element for both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. In humans iron is present in hundreds of different metalloproteins. The peptide hormone hepcidin serves as a master regulator of iron homeostasis on the level of single cells and whole organism - by altering cell surface expression of cellular iron exporter - protein ferroportin. Altered levels of extracellular hepcidin lead to pathological conditions such as hemochromatosis and iron loading or, on the other side, iron restrictive anemias. Therapeutic modulation of hepcidin is a new and promising approach to treatment of these conditions. In this review, a summary of the current knowledge of hepcidin function, regulation and pathological involvements are provided, followed by a section covering the therapeutic potential of hepcidin and the current strategies how to modulate its levels and biological functions for therapeutic purposes.
Keywords: Anemia of chronic disease; Hemochromatosis; Hepcidin; Iron; Iron deficiency anemia; Iron overload; Iron therapy; Thalassemia.
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