Background: Hepcidin has been shown to be inversely associated with iron absorption and the expression of iron transport proteins in healthy females and patients with iron deficiency. Data describing the relationship between hepcidin expression and iron absorption in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are lacking. The objective of this study was to assess the relationship between serum concentrations of hepcidin and iron absorption in patients with IBD and iron deficiency by means of an oral iron absorption test.
Methods: This study was conducted as a comparative, single-centered, open clinical trial. After overnight fasting, an oral iron absorption test was performed, serum iron concentrations were measured 60, 90, 120, 180, and 240 minutes. Changes in iron levels between baseline and the 2-hour timepoint were calculated and recorded.
Results: Both ferritin and serum hepcidin levels are found to be good predictors of iron malabsorption, with sensitivity and specificity both at levels > 95%. When the two markers are compared, in our analysis, serum hepcidin levels (AUC: 0.817) tended to predict iron malabsorption slightly better than serum ferritin (AUC: 0.788).
Conclusions: The evidence from our study suggests that serum hepcidin levels are a promising predictor of absorptive capacity in patients treated with oral iron compounds.