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Physiol Rep. 2018 Sep;6(19):e13890. doi: 10.14814/phy2.13890.

Erythroferrone is not required for the glucoregulatory and hematologic effects of chronic erythropoietin treatment in mice.

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Department of Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, California.
IRSD, Université de Toulouse, INSERM U1220, INRA U1416, ENVT, UPS, Toulouse, France.


Erythropoietin (EPO) acts on erythroid progenitor cells to promote their survival and differentiation to mature erythrocytes. Along with this canonical role, EPO is also reported to modulate energy metabolism, resulting in improved glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity. EPO also stimulates the production of the hormone erythroferrone (ERFE) which acts to suppress hepcidin production, thus increasing dietary iron absorption and mobilizing stored iron for use in erythropoiesis. ERFE (initially termed myonectin) was also reported have an effect on systemic lipid metabolism by promoting the clearance of nonesterifed fatty acids (NEFA) from circulation. As increased levels of circulating NEFA blunt insulin sensitivity and impair glucose tolerance, ERFE-induced clearance of NEFA after EPO administration would have a beneficial effect on glucose metabolism. The aim of this study was to determine if the known metabolic effect of EPO treatment on glucose homeostasis is mediated by ERFE, produced in response to EPO. Mice lacking Erfe did not differ from wild-type mice in blood lipid parameters, blood glucose, and glucose or insulin tolerance at baseline or after chronic EPO treatment. Additionally, hepcidin suppression and the response of erythrocyte parameters to chronic EPO treatment were unaffected by the absence of Erfe. These findings suggest that the known beneficial effects of EPO on glucose metabolism are not attributable to an accompanying increase in ERFE production, and that Erfe is dispensable for normal glucose homeostasis. Furthermore, our data indicate that ERFE-independent mechanisms can suppress hepcidin in response to chronically elevated EPO levels.


Erythroferrone; erythropoietin; glucose; hepcidin; myonectin

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