The interaction between hepcidin and ferroportin is the key mechanism involved in regulation of systemic iron homeostasis. This axis can be affected by multiple stimuli including plasma iron levels, inflammation and erythropoietic demand. Genetic defects or prolonged inflammatory stimuli results in dysregulation of this axis, which can lead to several disorders including hereditary hemochromatosis and anaemia of chronic disease. An imbalance in iron homeostasis is increasingly being associated with worse disease outcomes in many clinical conditions including multiple cancers and neurological disorders. Currently, there are limited treatment options for regulating iron levels in patients and thus significant efforts are being made to uncover approaches to regulate hepcidin and ferroportin expression. These approaches either target these molecules directly or regulatory steps which mediate hepcidin or ferroportin expression. This review examines the current status of hepcidin and ferroportin agonists and antagonists, as well as inducers and inhibitors of these proteins and their regulatory pathways.
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