Background and utility

Hepcidin is a 25-amino acid peptide hormone that is the central regulator of body iron metabolism. It is synthesized in the liver and secreted in plasma and binds to the cellular iron export channel ferroportin causing its internalization and degradation, thereby decreasing iron efflux from iron exporting enterocytes and macrophages  into plasma. Increased iron stores and inflammation induce hepcidin synthesis, whereas suppression occurs during hypoxia, anemia and increased and/or ineffective erythropoiesis in the bone marrow. Furthermore, hepcidin deficiency plays a central role in the iron loading in hereditary hemochromatosis and thalassemia’s. Finally, hepcidin is induced under conditions of infection, decreasing the available host iron pool that is essential for survival of invading pathogens.


Promising applications in diagnostic medicine range from the use of hepcidin levels for diagnosis of iron-refractory iron deficiency anemia to global health applications such as guiding safe iron supplementation in developing countries with high infection burden.
Measuring hepcidin levels is also anticipated to be helpful both in selecting patients and monitoring the effects of novel hepcidin modulating therapies. This includes hepcidin agonists for treatment of iron overload disorders, and hepcidin antagonists for treatment of iron restriction in ACD.
Since hepcidin is a highly dynamic hormone, that is regulated by numerous factors, the correct interpretation of hepcidin levels in a given individual requires accurate knowledge of the overall clinical context.



We offer quantitative serum/plasma and urine hepcidin measurements by two different methods:

1. A combination of weak cation exchange chromatography and time-of-flight mass spectrometry (WCX-TOF MS) using a hepcidin analogue as internal standard.

2. A competitive ELISA. This method measures the total of hepcidin isoforms and is especially appropriate for large sample numbers.


Responsible laboratory

Hepcidin measurements are coordinated and performed by the Hepcidinanalysis.com initiative that is embedded in the Translational Metabolic Laboratory of the Department of Laboratory Medicine of the Radboudumc, Nijmegen, the Netherlands.


More information

We provide hepcidin tests for patient care for research purposes and clinical trials.

Information on the general procedures, reference values and sample recommendations  for hepcidin analysis can be found here.  A diagnostic test can be requested directly using our Online Test Request.