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Low plasma iron (hypoferremia) induced by hepcidin is a conserved inflammatory response that protects against infections but inhibits erythropoiesis. How hypoferremia influences leukocytogenesis is unclear. Using proteomic data, we predicted that neutrophil production would be profoundly more iron-demanding than generation of other white blood cell types. Accordingly in mice, hepcidin-mediated hypoferremia substantially reduced numbers of granulocytes but not monocytes, lymphocytes, or dendritic cells. Neutrophil rebound after anti-Gr-1-induced neutropenia was blunted during hypoferremia but was rescued by supplemental iron. Similarly, hypoferremia markedly inhibited pharmacologically stimulated granulopoiesis mediated by granulocyte colony-stimulating factor and inflammation-induced accumulation of neutrophils in the spleen and peritoneal cavity. Furthermore, hypoferremia specifically altered neutrophil effector functions, suppressing antibacterial mechanisms but enhancing mitochondrial reactive oxygen species-dependent NETosis associated with chronic inflammation. Notably, antagonizing endogenous hepcidin during acute inflammation enhanced production of neutrophils. We propose plasma iron modulates the profile of innate immunity by controlling monocyte-to-neutrophil ratio and neutrophil activity in a therapeutically targetable system.

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Journal article


Sci Adv

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