Recombinant human erythropoietin-induced erythropoiesis regulates hepcidin expression over iron status in the rat

Sandra Ribeiro, Patrícia Garrido, João Fernandes, Susana Rocha, Petronila Rocha-Pereira, Elísio Costa, Luís Belo, Flávio Reis, Alice Santos-Silva*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The crosstalk between several factors controlling hepcidin synthesis is poorly clarified for different physiological and pathological conditions. Our aim was to study the impact of increasing recombinant human erythropoietin (rHuEPO) doses on erythropoiesis, iron metabolism and hepcidin, using a rat model. Male Wistar rats were divided in 5 groups: control (vehicle) and rHuEPO-treated groups (100, 200, 400 and 600 IU/kg body weight/week), 3 times per week, during 3 weeks. Hematological and iron data were evaluated. The expression of several genes involved in iron metabolism was analyzed by qPCR. Liver hepcidin protein was evaluated by Western Blot. The rHuEPO treatment induced erythropoiesis and increased transferrin saturation (TSAT) in a dose dependent manner. Tf receptor 2 (TfR2), hemojuvelin (HJV) and bone morphogenetic protein 6 (BMP6) were up-regulated in rHuEPO200 group. Matriptase-2 was down-regulated in rHuEPO200 group, and up-regulated in the other rHuEPO-treated groups. Hepcidin synthesis was increased in rHuEPO200 group, and repressed in the rHuEPO400 and rHuEPO600 groups. Our study showed that when a high erythropoietic stimulus occurs, hepcidin synthesis is mainly regulated by TSAT; however, when the erythropoiesis rate reaches a specific threshold, extramedullary hematopoiesis is triggered, and the control of hepcidin synthesis is switched to matriptase-2, thus inhibiting hepcidin synthesis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-70
Number of pages8
JournalBlood Cells, Molecules, and Diseases
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Erythropoiesis
  • Hepcidin
  • Iron
  • Matriptase-2
  • Transferrin saturation


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