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World J Gastroenterol. 2007 Sep 21;13(35):4673-89.

HFE gene in primary and secondary hepatic iron overload.

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  • 1Venetian Institute of Molecular Medicine (VIMM), Padova and Digestive Diseases, Hepatology and Clinical Nutrition Department, Umberto I Hospital, Venice, Italy.


Distinct from hereditary haemochromatosis, hepatic iron overload is a common finding in several chronic liver diseases. Many studies have investigated the prevalence, distribution and possible contributory role of excess hepatic iron in non-haemochromatotic chronic liver diseases. Indeed, some authors have proposed iron removal in liver diseases other than hereditary haemochromatosis. However, the pathogenesis of secondary iron overload remains unclear. The High Fe (HFE) gene has been implicated, but the reported data are controversial. In this article, we summarise current concepts regarding the cellular role of the HFE protein in iron homeostasis. We review the current status of the literature regarding the prevalence, hepatic distribution and possible therapeutic implications of iron overload in chronic hepatitis C, hepatitis B, alcoholic and non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases and porphyria cutanea tarda. We discuss the evidence regarding the role of HFE gene mutations in these liver diseases. Finally, we summarize the common and specific features of iron overload in liver diseases other than haemochromatosis.

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