Chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection often develop into cirrhosis, and both are major risk factors of hepatocellular carcinoma. However, effective approaches for the monitoring of HBV-related disease progress are still in need. Increased iron storage has an important role in HBV-related diseases. Hepcidin is a key regulator of iron homeostasis whose expression changes are often indicative of abnormal iron metabolism. There are few reports of hepcidin levels in patients with HBV infections, and the available results are inconsistent. In this study, using a recently validated nanopore silica film based method, we measured serum hepcidin levels in 46 HBV-related patients and 20 healthy controls. Patients were divided into three groups: chronic hepatitis B without cirrhosis; HBV-related cirrhosis; and HBV-related cirrhosis with hepatocellular carcinoma. Compared to healthy controls, the mean serum hepcidin level was significantly higher in CHB patients without cirrhosis, and in those with hepatocellular carcinoma, but not in those with cirrhosis. Iron-loading, viral infection and liver dysfunction are determined to be the major regulators of hepcidin in these patients. These observations suggest correlations between serum hepcidin and progression of chronic HBV infection, and may shed a new light on the development of biomarkers for HBV-related disease surveillance.
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