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Clin Chem Lab Med. 2004 Apr;42(4):387-9.

Prohepcidin accumulates in renal insufficiency.

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  • 1Laboratory Clinical Chemistry, University Hospital Ghent, Ghent, Belgium.



The understanding of iron metabolism has increased substantially during the last decade. Several new transporters and iron regulating molecules have been described. Hepcidin, a small hepatic peptide has recently been proposed as a central mediator of dietary iron absorption. We have investigated the relationship between prohepcidin, the prohormone of hepcidin, and renal function and iron status.


Forty six patients, referred for 51Cr-EDTA clearance were included in this study. Renal function was assessed by determination of serum creatinine, creatinine clearance, serum cystatin C and serum beta-trace protein. Iron status was evaluated by determination of serum iron, transferrin, transferrin saturation and serum ferritin. All determinations were performed using commercial reagents (Roche Diagnostics, Dade Behring). Serum prohepcidin was determined using an ELISA kit.


Serum prohepcidin was found to correlate with 51Cr-EDTA clearance (r = -0.44; p = 0.005), creatinine clearance, serum creatinine, beta-trace protein and cystatin C. No significant relationship was observed between serum prohepcidin concentrations and red cell count, hemoglobin concentration or hematocrit. No significant correlation was found in this population between prohepcidin concentrations and iron status.


Increased serum prohepcidin concentrations were observed with declining kidney function. We observed no relationship between red cell indices or iron status and serum prohepcidin concentrations.

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