Background: Abdominal fat accumulation is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, whereas lower body fat is protective. Erythroferrone (ERFE) is a recently discovered protein that increases intestinal iron absorption by inhibiting hepcidin. ERFE has been shown to inhibit BMP2 signalling and work from our group has shown that BMP2 is a differentiation factor for subcutaneous abdominal, but not gluteal, adipocytes. Because of this, we hypothesised that ERFE would regulate regional fat mass.
Methods: We measured plasma ERFE by ELISA in the Oxford Biobank (OBB), a cohort of healthy men and women aged 30-50 years old based in Oxfordshire. Body composition was determined by anthropometric measurements and Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA) scanning.
Results: Plasma ERFE showed a weak negative correlation with BMI in women (n=1,119, r=-0.062, P=0.04) but not in men (n=1,130, r=-0.021, P=0.50). However, ERFE was negatively associated with android-to-total fat ratio (r= -0.093, P=0.002) and was positively correlated with leg-to-total fat ratio (r=0.094, P=0.004) after adjustment for BMI in women. Furthermore, plasma ERFE was negatively correlated with plasma triglycerides in both sexes after accounting for BMI.
Conclusions: In women, plasma ERFE displays negative correlations with BMI and is associated with a shift to lower rather than upper fat accumulation. This is directionally consistent with the suppression of the adipogenic signalling by ERFE in abdominal preadipocytes when stimulated by BMP2 and could describe a link between the regulation of iron homeostasis and fat deposition.
14 Nov 2022 - 16 Nov 2022