The regulation of iron metabolism by hepcidin contributes to unloading-induced bone loss

Zi Xu, Weijia Sun, Yuheng Li, Shukuan Ling, Chenyang Zhao, Guohui Zhong, Dingsheng Zhao, Jinping Song, Hailin Song, Jinqiao Li, Linhao You, Guangjun Nie, Yanzhong Chang, Yingxian Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Iron overload inhibits osteoblast function and promotes osteoclastogenesis. Hepcidin plays an important role in this process. The changes in iron content and the regulation of hepcidin under unloading-induced bone loss remain unknown. A hindlimb suspension model was adopted to simulate unloading-induced bone loss in mice. The results showed that iron deposition in both liver and bone was markedly increased in hindlimb unloaded mice, and was accompanied by the upregulation of osteoclast activity and downregulation of osteoblast activity. The iron chelator deferoxamine mesylate (DFO) reduced the iron content in bone and alleviated unloading-induced bone loss. The increased iron content in bone was mainly a result of the upregulation of transferrin receptor 1 (TfR1) and divalent metal transporter 1 with iron response element (DMT1 + IRE), rather than changes in the iron transporter ferroportin 1 (FPN1). The hepcidin level in the liver was significantly higher, while the FPN1 level in the duodenum was substantially reduced. However, there were no changes in the FPN1 level in bone tissue. During hindlimb unloading, downregulation of hepcidin by siRNA increased iron uptake in bone and liver, which aggravated unloading-induced bone loss. In summary, these data show that unloading-induced bone loss was orchestrated by iron overload and coupled with the regulation of hepcidin by the liver.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)152-161
Number of pages10
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Bone loss
  • Hepcidin
  • Iron
  • Osteoblast
  • Osteoclast

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Histology


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