EBV is associated with elevated Hepcidin 2023


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Elevated Hepcidin prevents iron absorption.
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IJMS | Free Full-Text | Epstein–Barr Virus Infection Is Associated with Elevated Hepcidin Levels (mdpi.com)

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Epstein–Barr Virus Infection Is Associated with Elevated Hepcidin Levels

EBV and Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) cause highly prevalent persistent infections as early as in childhood.

Both pathogens are associated with gastric carcinogenesis.

H. pylori interferes with iron metabolism, enhancing the synthesis of acute-phase proteins hepcidin, C-reactive protein (CRP), and α-1 glycoprotein (AGP), but we do not know whether EBV does the same.

In this study, we correlated the EBV antibody levels and the serum levels of hepcidin, CRP, and AGP in 145 children from boarding schools in Mexico City.

We found that children IgG positive to EBV antigens (VCA, EBNA1, and EA) presented hepcidin, AGP, and CRP levels higher than uninfected children.

Hepcidin and AGP remained high in children solely infected with EBV, while CRP was only significantly high in coinfected children.

We observed positive correlations between hepcidin and EBV IgG antibodies (p < 0.5).

Using the TCGA gastric cancer database, we also observed an association between EBV and hepcidin upregulation.

The TCGA database also allowed us to analyze the two important pathways controlling hepcidin expression, BMP–SMAD and IL-1β/IL-6.

We observed only the IL-1β/IL-6-dependent inflammatory pathway being significantly associated with EBV infection.

We showed here for the first time an association between EBV and enhanced levels of hepcidin.

Further studies should consider EBV when evaluating iron metabolism and anemia, and whether in the long run this is an important mechanism of undernourishment and EBV gastric carcinogenesis.