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Gastroenterology. 1992 Jun;102(6):2108-13.

Measurements of iron status in patients with chronic hepatitis.

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  • 1Liver Diseases Section, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Bethesda, Maryland.


Eighty patients with chronic viral hepatitis were screened for evidence of iron overload. Elevated serum iron values were noted in 36% of cases; serum ferritin values were above normal in 30% of men and 8% of women. Twenty-eight additional patients with chronic hepatitis for whom liver tissue was available for determination of iron content were evaluated to study the significance of iron overload in association with chronic hepatitis. Although 46% had elevated serum iron, ferritin, or transferrin-saturation levels, the hepatic iron concentration was elevated in only four cases, and the hepatic iron index was in the range for hereditary hemochromatosis (greater than 2.0) in only two of these. Serum aspartate aminotransferase activities correlated with serum ferritin levels in these patients, suggesting that ferritin and iron levels were increased in serum because of their release from hepatocellular stores associated with necrosis. Thus, in patients with chronic hepatitis in whom hereditary hemochromatosis is suspected, a liver biopsy should be performed with quantitation of hepatic iron and calculation of the hepatic iron index to confirm the diagnosis.

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