Effects of oral supplementation of iron on hepcidin blood concentrations among non-anaemic female blood donors: a randomized controlled trial

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Background and objectives

Hepcidin is the main hormone that regulates iron balance. Its lowering favours digestive iron absorption in cases of iron deficiency or enhanced erythropoiesis. The careful dosage of this small peptide promises new diagnostic and therapeutic strategies. Its measurement is progressively being validated and now its clinical value must be explored in different physiological situations. Here, we evaluate hepcidin levels among premenopausal female donors with iron deficiency without anaemia.

Materials and Methods

In a preceding study, a 4-week oral iron treatment (80 mg/day) was administered in a randomized controlled trial (n = 145), in cases of iron deficiency without anaemia after a blood donation. We subsequently measured hepcidin at baseline and after 4 weeks of treatment, using mass spectrometry.


Iron supplementation had a significant effect on plasma hepcidin compared to the placebo arm at 4 weeks [+0·29 nm [95% CI: 0·18 to 0·40]). There was a significant correlation between hepcidin and ferritin at baseline (R2 = 0·121, P < 0·001) and after treatment (R2 = 0·436, P < 0·001). Hepcidin levels at baseline were not predictive of concentration changes for ferritin or haemoglobin. However, hepcidin levels at 4 weeks were significantly higher (0·79 nm [95% CI: 0·53 to 1·05]) among ferritin responders.


This study shows that a 4-week oral treatment of iron increased hepcidin blood concentrations in female blood donors with an initial ferritin concentration of less than 30 ng/ml. Apparently, hepcidin cannot serve as a predictor of response to iron treatment but might serve as a marker of the iron repletion needed for erythropoiesis.

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