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Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2008 Nov;32(11):1947-53. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.2008.00782.x. Epub 2008 Sep 6.

Ferroportin Q248h, dietary iron, and serum ferritin in community African-Americans with low to high alcohol consumption.

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  • 1College of Medicine, Howard University, Washington, DC 20060, USA.



Alcohol consumption is associated with increased iron stores. In sub-Saharan Africa, high dietary ionic iron and the ferroportin Q248H allele have also been implicated in iron accumulation. We examined the associations of ferroportin Q248H, alcohol and dietary iron with serum ferritin, aspartate aminotransaminase (AST) and alanine aminotransaminase (ALT) concentrations in African-Americans.


Inner-city African-Americans (103 men, 40 women) were recruited from the community according to reported ingestion of >4 alcoholic drinks/d or <2/wk. Typical daily heme iron, nonheme iron and alcohol were estimated using University of Hawaii's multiethnic dietary questionnaire. Based on dietary questionnaire estimates we established categories of < versus > or =56 g alcohol/d, equivalent to 4 alcoholic drinks/d assuming 14 g alcohol per drink.


Among 143 participants, 77% drank <56 g alcohol/d and 23%> or =56 g/d as estimated by the questionnaire. The prevalence of ferroportin Q248H was 23.3% with alcohol >56 g/d versus 7.5% with lower amounts (p = 0.014). Among subjects with no history of HIV disease, serum ferritin concentration had positive relationships with male gender (p = 0.041), alcohol consumption (p = 0.021) and ALT concentration (p = 0.0001) but not with dietary iron intake or ferroportin Q248H. Serum AST and ALT concentrations had significant positive associations with male gender and hepatitis C seropositivity but not with alcohol or dietary iron intake or ferroportin Q248H.


Our findings suggest a higher prevalence of ferroportin Q248H with greater alcohol consumption, and this higher prevalence raises the possibility that the allele might ameliorate the toxicity of alcohol. Our results suggest that alcohol but not dietary iron contributes to higher body iron stores in African-Americans. Studies with larger numbers of participants are needed to further clarify the relationship of ferroportin Q248H with the toxicity of alcohol consumption.

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