Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2009 Mar;94(3):982-8. doi: 10.1210/jc.2008-1211. Epub 2008 Dec 30.

Study of circulating prohepcidin in association with insulin sensitivity and changing iron stores.

Author information

  • 1Department of Diabetes, Endocrinology and Nutrition, University Hospital of Girona Dr Josep Trueta and CIBER Fisiopatología de Obesidad y Nutrición CB06/03/010, 17007 Girona, Spain.



Liver synthesizes hepcidin in response to iron overload, leading to down-regulation of duodenal iron absorption. The pathophysiology of type 2 diabetes is associated with increased iron stores. We aimed to study circulating prohepcidin in association with insulin sensitivity and parameters of glucose and iron metabolism.


Serum prohepcidin was evaluated in three cohorts: 1) a cross-sectional study (cohort 1, men from the general population; n = 135); 2) after decreasing iron stores in men with "high-ferritin" type 2 diabetes (cohort 2; n = 13); and 3) after decreasing iron stores in men carrying HFE gene mutations (cohort 3; n = 16). Insulin sensitivity was measured using either the minimal model or the clamp technique.


Circulating prohepcidin correlated significantly with glycated hemoglobin (P < 0.0001), fasting glucose (P = 0.002), triglycerides (P = 0.007), high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (P = 0.01), ferritin (P = 0.01), and soluble transferrin receptor concentration (P = 0.001) in subjects from cohort 1. Prohepcidin decreased significantly after iron depletion in patients with type 2 diabetes (P = 0.04) (cohort 2) and in carriers of HFE gene mutations (P = 0.03) (cohort 3). In the latter subjects, the change in serum prohepcidin after iron depletion was associated with the change in both fasting glucose transferrin (r = 0.58; P = 0.02) and saturation (r = 0.68; P = 0.005). The changes in insulin sensitivity were associated with those of liver iron content (r = -0.64; P = 0.007) and with those of serum prohepcidin (r = -0.50; P = 0.04) (cohort 3).


These associations suggest that circulating prohepcidin concentration is pathophysiologically associated with parameters of glucose and iron metabolism. A failure to increase prohepcidin synthesis is hypothesized to contribute to iron-induced disorders of glucose metabolism.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Atypon
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk