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Can J Gastroenterol. 2005 Apr;19(4):253-5.

A point mutation in the iron-responsive element of the L-ferritin in a family with hereditary hyperferritinemia cataract syndrome.

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Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, University of Western Ontario, London.



Hereditary hyperferritinemia cataract syndrome is an autosomal dominant condition that is characterized by a high serum ferritin level and bilateral early-onset cataracts in the absence of iron overload. The genetic abnormality is identified as a mutation in the 5' regulatory region of the L-ferritin messenger RNA known as the iron-responsive element (IRE). The IRE controls ferritin synthesis in response to cytoplasmic iron pools by interacting with regulatory proteins called iron responsive proteins. Mutations in the IRE decrease its affinity for iron responsive proteins, leading to the constitutive synthesis of L-ferritin which results in hyperferritinemia and the intracellular accumulation of ferritin in the lens and eventual cataract formation.


A 22-year-old woman who was being investigated for hyperferritinemia was diagnosed with hereditary hyperferritinemia cataract syndrome after an extensive workup, including genetic testing for hemochromatosis and a liver biopsy to rule out iron overload. She developed anemia with phlebotomy treatments and subsequently developed symptomatic cataracts. The pedigree of her family affected with cataracts was consistent with an autosomal dominant transmission pattern. DNA was extracted from peripheral leukocytes of eight family members, four of whom were affected by cataracts. Polymerase chain reaction amplification of the 5' region of the L-ferritin gene was performed and a heterozygous point mutation (G32T) was identified in the bulge region of the IRE.


The combination of early-onset cataracts and an elevated ferritin level should suggest this genetic syndrome.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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