Matriptase-2 is essential for hepcidin repression during fetal life and postnatal development in mice to maintain iron homeostasis.

PMID 24904115


Iron is an essential element required for development and survival of all living organisms. In fetuses, maternofetal iron transfer across the placenta is essential for growth and development. In neonates, efficient intestinal iron absorption is required to scavenge as much iron as possible from the low-iron-content milk. During these periods, efficient iron mobilization is ensured by the downregulation of the iron regulatory hormone hepcidin by as-yet uncharacterized molecular mechanisms. Here we demonstrate that the recently described hepcidin repressor-the serine protease matriptase-2 (encoded by Tmprss6)-is responsible for this repression throughout development, with its deficiency leading to increased hepcidin levels triggering iron deficiency and anemia starting in utero. This result might have implications for a better understanding of iron homeostasis during early development in iron-refractory iron deficiency anemia patients, who present with microcytic anemia caused by hyperhepcidinemia, and of questions about the role of matriptase-2 in human neonates.