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Am J Epidemiol. 2001 Aug 1;154(3):193-206.

HFE gene and hereditary hemochromatosis: a HuGE review. Human Genome Epidemiology.

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United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine, Brooks Air Force Base, San Antonio, TX, USA.


Hereditary hemochromatosis (HHC) is an autosomal recessive disorder of iron metabolism characterized by increased iron absorption and deposition in the liver, pancreas, heart, joints, and pituitary gland. Without treatment, death may occur from cirrhosis, primary liver cancer, diabetes, or cardiomyopathy. In 1996, HFE, the gene for HHC, was mapped on the short arm of chromosome 6 (6p21.3). Two of the 37 allelic variants of HFE described to date (C282Y and H63D) are significantly correlated with HHC. Homozygosity for the C282Y mutation was found in 52-100% of previous studies on clinically diagnosed probands. In this review, 5% of HHC probands were found to be compound heterozygotes (C282Y/H63D), and 1.5% were homozygous for the H63D mutation; 3.6% were C282Y heterozygotes, and 5.2% were H63D heterozygotes. In 7% of cases, C282Y and H63D mutations were not present. In the general population, the frequency of the C282Y/C282Y genotype is 0.4%. C282Y heterozygosity ranges from 9.2% in Europeans to nil in Asian, Indian subcontinent, African/Middle Eastern, and Australasian populations. The H63D carrier frequency is 22% in European populations. Accurate data on the penetrance of the different HFE genotypes are not available. Extrapolating from limited clinical observations in screening studies, an estimated 40--70% of persons with the C282Y homozygous genotype will develop clinical evidence of iron overload. A smaller proportion will die from complications of iron overload. To date, population screening for HHC is not recommended because of uncertainties about optimal screening strategies, optimal care for susceptible persons, laboratory standardization, and the potential for stigmatization or discrimination.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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