Next Generation Biomarkers for Iron Status

Speaker: A. Drakesmith Presented at: 84th Nestlé Nutrition Institute Workshop - Switzerland


A major cause of anaemia, iron deficiency can have a significant impact on clinical outcomes. Iron status should be assessed  so that early interventions, including targeted iron therapy, can be implemented. Drakesmith provided an overview of diagnostic parameters currently used for iron deficiency. Hepcidin was described as the gatekeeper of systemic iron balance. Iron status indices incorporate the effect of inflammation and reflect bone marrow demand. These components have already been incorporated into hepcidin regulation. Hepcidin levels provide a direct assessment of an individual’s capacity to efficiently absorb oral iron and transport it to the bone marrow. While it is not a direct biomarker of iron deficiency, it provides information regarding the need for, as well as the ability to use, iron. Drakesmith described a large cohort study that used hepcidin to categorize iron-, and non-iron, responders. It was acknowledged that there is still some way yet to establishing hepcidin as a biomarker for iron therapy in a range of clinical conditions related to iron deficiencies.