Hepcidin is the master regulator of iron homeostasis in vertebrates. The synthesis of hepcidin is induced by systemic iron levels and by inflammatory stimuli. While the role of hepcidin in iron regulation is well established, its contribution to host defense is emerging as complex and multifaceted. In this review, we summarize the literature on the role of hepcidin as a mediator of antimicrobial immunity. Hepcidin induction during infection causes depletion of extracellular iron, which is thought to be a general defense mechanism against many infections by withholding iron from invading pathogens. Conversely, by promoting iron sequestration in macrophages, hepcidin may be detrimental to cellular defense against certain intracellular infections, although critical in vivo studies are needed to confirm this concept. It is not yet clear whether hepcidin exerts any iron-independent effects on host defenses.
Source: Michels K, Nemeth E, Ganz T, Mehrad B. Hepcidin and Host Defense against Infectious Diseases. Bliska JB, ed. PLoS Pathogens. 2015;11(8):e1004998. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1004998.