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Blood. 2003 Sep 1;102(5):1904-10. Epub 2003 May 1.

Molecular analyses of patients with hyperferritinemia and normal serum iron values reveal both L ferritin IRE and 3 new ferroportin (slc11A3) mutations.

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  • 1INSERM U409, Faculte Xavier Bichat, 16 rue Henri Huchard, BP 416, 75870 Paris cedex 18, France.


Unexplained hyperferritinemia is a common clinical finding, even in asymptomatic persons. When early onset bilateral cataracts are also present, the hereditary hyperferritinemia-cataract syndrome (HHCS), because of heterozygous point mutation in the L ferritin iron-responsive element (IRE) sequence, can be suspected. We sequenced the L ferritin exon 1 in 52 DNA samples from patients referred to us for molecular diagnosis of HHCS. We identified 24 samples with a point mutation/deletion in the IRE. For the 28 samples in which no IRE mutation was present, we also genotyped HFE mutations and sequenced both H ferritin and ferroportin genes. We found an increased frequency of His63Asp heterozygotes (12 of 28) but no H ferritin mutations. We identified 3 new ferroportin mutations, producing, respectively, Asp157Gly, Gln182His, and Gly323Val amino acid replacements, suggesting that these patients have dominant type 4 hemochromatosis. This study demonstrates that both L ferritin IRE and ferroportin mutations can account for isolated hyperferritinemia. The presence of cataract does not permit the unambiguous identification of patients with HHCS, although the existence of a family history of cataract was only encountered in these patients. This raises the intriguing possibility that lens ferritin accumulation might be a factor contributing to age-related cataract in the general population. Additional causes of isolated hyperferritinemia remain to be identified.

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