Iron overload as a result of blood transfusions and excessive intestinal iron absorption can be a complication of chronic anemias such as β-thalassemia. Inappropriately low levels of hepcidin, a negative regulator of iron absorption and recycling, underlie the pathophysiology of the intestinal hyperabsorption. In this issue of the JCI, Gardenghi et al. demonstrate that increasing hepcidin expression to induce iron deficiency in murine β-thalassemia not only mitigates the iron overload, but also the severity of the anemia. These data illustrate the therapeutic potential of modulating hepcidin expression in diseases associated with altered iron metabolism.
Thomas B. Bartnikas, Mark D. Fleming