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Advances in Hematology
Volume 2011, Article ID 510304, 7 pages
Review Article

Hepcidin: A Critical Regulator of Iron Metabolism during Hypoxia

1Department of Nutrition, Dietetics & Food Sciences, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322, USA
2Military Nutrition Division, US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM), Natick, MA 01760, USA

Received 27 May 2011; Accepted 8 July 2011

Academic Editor: Angela Panoskaltsis-Mortari

Copyright © 2011 Korry J. Hintze and James P. McClung. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Iron status affects cognitive and physical performance in humans. Recent evidence indicates that iron balance is a tightly regulated process affected by a series of factors other than diet, to include hypoxia. Hypoxia has profound effects on iron absorption and results in increased iron acquisition and erythropoiesis when humans move from sea level to altitude. The effects of hypoxia on iron balance have been attributed to hepcidin, a central regulator of iron homeostasis. This paper will focus on the molecular mechanisms by which hypoxia affects hepcidin expression, to include a review of the hypoxia inducible factor (HIF)/hypoxia response element (HRE) system, as well as recent evidence indicating that localized adipose hypoxia due to obesity may affect hepcidin signaling and organismal iron metabolism.