Transferrin is a major determinant of hepcidin expression in hypotransferrinemic mice.
As a central regulator of iron metabolism, hepcidin inhibits dietary iron absorption and macrophage iron recycling. Its expression is regulated by multiple factors including iron availability and erythropoietic activity. To investigate the role of transferrin (Tf) in the regulation of hepcidin expression by these factors in vivo, we employed the hypotransferrinemic (hpx) mouse. These Tf-deficient mice have severe microcytic anemia, tissue iron overload, and hepcidin deficiency. To determine the relationship of Tf levels and erythropoiesis to hepcidin expression, we subjected hpx mutant and control mice to a number of experimental manipulations. Treatment of hpx mice with Tf injections corrected their anemia and restored hepcidin expression. To investigate the effect of erythropoiesis on hepcidin expression, we suppressed erythropoiesis with blood transfusions or myeloablation with chemotherapeutic drugs. Transfusion of hpx animals with wild-type red blood cells led to increased hepcidin expression, while hepcidin expression in myeloablated hpx mice increased only if Tf was administered postablation. These results suggest that hepcidin expression in hpx mice is regulated both by Tf-restricted erythropoiesis and by Tf through a mechanism independent of its role in erythropoiesis.
Bartnikas, TB; Andrews, NC; Fleming, MD
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