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Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1991 Dec;15(6):963-9.

Increase in glycosylated and nonglycosylated serum ferritin in chronic alcoholism and their evolution during alcohol withdrawal.

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1
INSERM U 49, Unité de Recherches Hépatologiques, Rennes, France.

Abstract

Increase in serum ferritin, which occurs in 40 to 70% of chronic alcoholics, remains poorly understood. We tested the hypothesis which links hyperferritinemia in chronic alcoholism not only to ferritin release from damaged liver cells, but also to increased ferritin secretion. Fifty-eight chronic alcoholic patients hospitalized for alcohol withdrawal were subdivided into three groups according to liver damage. Their serum levels of ferritin and ferritin bound to concanavalin A (ferritin Con A, which represents glycosylated, i.e., secreted ferritin) were measured serially on days 1, 7, and 11 of withdrawal and compared with a control group. The results were: (1) Total serum ferritin increased in alcoholics. Both free and Con A ferritins increased in equal proportions, the ferritin Con A to total ferritin ratio remaining unchanged. The increase was dependent on liver disease, as both free and Con A ferritins increased significantly with the severity of liver illness. Serum ferritin levels were related to iron status: it correlated with hepatic iron concentration (obtained in 19 patients); however, high ferritin values were not related to the degree of iron overload, which remained low. Finally, there was no correlation between serum ferritin and the average of alcohol consumption. (2) Both free and Con A ferritin decreased by about 40% during alcohol withdrawal. In conclusion, we have demonstrated that (1) total serum ferritin is increased in chronic alcoholism and (2) that this ferritin increase is due in part to an increase in ferritin Con A, proof of the induction of ferritin secretion by alcohol in humans.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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