Hepcidin and Hfe in iron overload in β-thalassemia
Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides
Histocompatibility Antigens Class I
Hepcidin (HAMP) negatively regulates iron absorption, degrading the iron exporter ferroportin at the level of enterocytes and macrophages. We showed that mice with beta-thalassemia intermedia (th3/+) have increased anemia and iron overload. However, their hepcidin expression is relatively low compared to their iron burden. We also showed that the iron metabolism gene Hfe is down-regulated in concert with hepcidin in th3/+ mice. These observations suggest that low hepcidin levels are responsible for abnormal iron absorption in thalassemic mice and that down-regulation of Hfe might be involved in the pathway that controls hepcidin synthesis in beta-thalassemia. Therefore, these studies suggest that increasing hepcidin and/or Hfe expression could be a strategy to reduces iron overload in these animals. The goal of this paper is to review recent findings that correlate hepcidin, Hfe, and iron metabolism in beta-thalassemia and to discuss potential novel therapeutic approaches based on these recent discoveries.