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Neth J Med. 2015 Mar;73(3):108-18.

Hepcidin in chronic kidney disease: not an anaemia management tool, but promising as a cardiovascular biomarker.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Nephrology, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Hepcidin is a key regulator of iron homeostasis and plays a role in the pathogenesis of anaemia of chronic disease. Its levels are increased in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) due to diminished renal clearance and an inflammatory state. Increased hepcidin levels in CKD patients are supposed to be responsible for functional iron deficiency in these patients and contribute to renal anaemia and resistance to erythropoiesis-stimulating agents. Therefore, hepcidin was purported to be useful as a management tool guiding treatment of renal anaemia. Furthermore, since hepcidin is associated with iron accumulation in macrophages in the vessel wall inducing oxidative stress and atherosclerosis, it has been speculated that hepcidin might function as a biomarker of cardiovascular disease. In this descriptive review, the merits of hepcidin with respect to its role in the pathophysiology of renal anaemia in CKD patients, its presumptive role as a practical diagnostic tool guiding management of renal anaemia, and its possible usefulness as a prognostic biomarker will be discussed.

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