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PLoS One. 2018 Aug 8;13(8):e0201153. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0201153. eCollection 2018.

Hepcidin as a potential predictor for preoperative anemia treatment with intravenous iron-A retrospective pilot study.

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Department of Anesthesiology, Intensive Care and Pain Medicine, University Hospital Muenster, University of Muenster, Muenster, Germany.
Department of Pharmacy, University Hospital Muenster, University of Muenster, Muenster, Germany.
Institute of Biostatistics and Clinical Research, University of Muenster, Muenster, Germany.


Preoperative anemia occurs in about one third of patients who undergo elective surgery and is associated with an impaired outcome. Therefore, screening of preoperative anemia was established in the context of a multidisciplinary Patient Blood Management (PBM) program at the University Hospital of Muenster, Germany. Anemic patients without contraindications were treated with intravenous (IV) iron (ferric carboxymaltose) to increase their hemoglobin (Hgb) levels and hence to treat anemia prior to surgery. Interestingly, we detected a large variability in the response of Hgb levels after IV iron administration. Systemic iron homeostasis is mainly regulated by the hepatic hormone hepcidin, which regulates the cell surface expression of the sole known iron exporter ferroportin. The objective of this retrospective pilot study was to analyze the potential of hepcidin to predict the response of anemic patients to preoperative IV iron treatment measured as increase in Hgb. Serum samples of non-anemic (n = 48), untreated anemic (n = 64) and anemic patients treated with IV iron (n = 79), in total 191 patients, were collected between October 2014 until June 2016. Serum hepcidin levels were determined and data were analyzed retrospectively. The analysis revealed at first a correlation between serum hepcidin levels and the parameters of the iron status. Second, patients treated with IV iron showed a noticeably higher increase in their delta Hgb level between PBM consultation and surgery (0.45g/dl [0.05, 1.05] compared to patients without IV iron (0.1g/dl [-0.48, 0.73], *p = 0.03). Patients were then grouped into 'non-responders', defined as delta Hgb <0.6g/dl and 'responders', with delta Hgb ≥0.6g/dl between the day of IV iron treatment and the day of surgery. Within normal ranges and clinically unapparent, a statistically noticeable difference between responders and non-responders was found for CRP and leukocytes. Serum hepcidin levels were higher in the group of non-responders (10.6ng/ml [3.93, 34.77]) compared to responders (2.1ng/ml [0.25, 7.97], *p = 0.04). To conclude, the data of this retrospective pilot study indicate that hepcidin might be a promising biomarker to predict a patient`s responsiveness to IV iron in preoperative anemia treatment. Prospective studies have to investigate serum hepcidin levels as a biomarker to guide physician`s decision on IV iron substitution.

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