Hepcidin is an anti-microbial peptide predicted to be involved in the regulation of intestinal iron absorption. We have examined the relationship between the expression of hepcidin in the liver and the expression of the iron-transport molecules divalent-metal transporter 1, duodenal cytochrome b, hephaestin and Ireg1 in the duodenum of rats switched from an iron-replete to an iron-deficient diet or treated to induce an acute phase response. In each case, elevated hepcidin expression correlated with reduced iron absorption and depressed levels of iron-transport molecules. These data are consistent with hepcidin playing a role as a negative regulator of intestinal iron absorption.

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