BACKGROUND: Hepcidin-25 reduces iron absorption by binding to the intestinal iron transporter ferroportin and causing its degradation. Currently, little is known about the basal regulation of circulating hepcidin-25. In addition, although erythropoietin administration has been reported to decrease the circulating hepcidin concentration, information is limited regarding how other stimulators of erythropoiesis, such as growth hormone (GH), might alter hepcidin-25 concentrations.
METHODS: We used a sensitive and specific hepcidin-25 dual–monoclonal antibody sandwich immunoassay to measure hepcidin-25 in healthy human volunteers at various time points throughout the day and during 3 days of fasting and subsequent refeeding. We also measured hepcidin-25 concentrations in healthy volunteers after GH administration.
RESULTS: In healthy individuals, hepcidin-25 concentrations displayed a diurnal variation, with concentrations being lowest in the early morning and steadily increasing throughout the day before declining during the evening hours, a pattern that was not influenced by food intake. Prolonged fasting produced statistically significant increases in hepcidin-25 concentrations. Refeeding reversed this process, and GH administration markedly decreased hepcidin-25 concentrations.
CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate that in humans, hepcidin-25 exhibits diurnal changes that can be altered by prolonged fasting, which increases hepcidin-25 concentrations approximately 3-fold after 3 days of fasting, possibly owing to a suppression of erythropoiesis that may occur during the fasting state to preserve tissue iron concentrations. In contrast, GH administration decreased hepcidin-25 concentrations by approximately 65%, presumably by stimulating erythropoiesis. These results indicate that circulating hepcidin-25 concentrations display much more dynamic and rapid variation than might have been anticipated previously.
- Received for publication March 20, 2012.
- Accepted for publication May 21, 2012.
- © 2012 The American Association for Clinical Chemistry