To determine the serum hepcidin concentration and standard hematological parameters in a group of female adolescent athletes, compared with a group of nonathlete females.Design:
A case–control study.Setting:
A senior high school for athletes in Gothenburg, Sweden.Participants:
All female athletes (70), at the school were offered to take part. Fifty-six athletes accepted. From a random sample of age-matched nonathletes, 71 students were recruited to the control group.Main Outcome Measures:
Iron deficiency (ID) was determined by levels of serum iron, total iron-binding capacity, transferrin saturation (TS), and ferritin. Serum hepcidin was determined by a mass spectrometry method. All samples were taken at least 12 hours after training.Results:
The main result was the finding of a significantly elevated serum hepcidin level in the athlete group, 4.7 nmol/L compared with 3.3 nmol/L (P < 0.001) in the nonathlete group. In the athlete group, the serum iron concentration was significantly lower, 14.0 μmol/L compared with 17.6 μmol/L (P = 0.003) in the nonathlete group. No difference was found regarding TS, total iron binding capacity, and ferritin. There was no difference in the occurrence of ID or iron deficiency anaemia (IDA).Conclusions:
These findings show an increase in serum hepcidin in a large group of female athletes. The elevated hepcidin levels may affect the iron balance of the athletes, adding to the traditional explanation of dietary intake/iron loss balance.