Changes in serum hepcidin levels in acute iron intoxication in a rat model

Eyal Ben-Assa, Ilan Youngster*, Eran Kozer, Ibrahim Abu-Kishk, Adina Bar-Haim, Benjamin Bar-Oz, Matitiahu Berkovitch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hepcidin is an important and recently discovered regulator of iron homeostasis. Acute iron intoxication is one of the leading causes of overdose mortality in children. It is difficult to estimate the degree of iron intoxication since iron serum levels do not correlate with the actual clinical severity. In the current study we aimed to investigate whether serum hepcidin levels are elevated in acute iron intoxication. Rats were divided into two iron dose groups and one control group. Each group was further subdivided into four time groups following the administration of iron. Levels of hepcidin, iron and liver enzymes were measured, and animals were followed for signs of toxicity. Serum hepcidin levels were significantly higher in the group treated with toxic doses of iron (p = 0.005). No significant difference in serum iron levels was found between the groups. In acute iron intoxication serum hepcidin levels increase significantly and remain elevated for at least 6 h. We postulate that beyond the first hour after iron administration, serum hepcidin levels provide a better estimate of the amount of iron intake than do serum iron levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-247
Number of pages6
JournalToxicology Letters
Issue number3
StatePublished - 28 Sep 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Hepcidin
  • Iron intoxication
  • Rat model
  • Serum levels


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