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World J Gastroenterol. 2009 May 7;15(17):2132-8.

Hyperferritinemia is a risk factor for steatosis in chronic liver disease.

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Gastroenterology and Hepatology Unit, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Palermo, 90127 Palermo, Italy.



To investigate the relationship between ferritin and steatosis in patients with chronically abnormal liver function tests (LFTs) and high ferritin level.


One hundred and twenty-four consecutive patients with hyperferritinemia (male > 300 ng/mL, female > 200 ng/mL) were evaluated; clinical, biochemical and serological data, iron status parameters, HFE gene mutations and homeostasis model assessment score were obtained. Steatosis was graded by ultrasound as absent or present. Histology was available in 53 patients only.


Mean level of ferritin was 881 +/- 77 ng/mL in men and 549 +/- 82 ng/mL in women. The diagnosis was chronic hepatitis C in 53 (42.7%), non-alcoholic fatty liver disease/non-alcoholic steatohepatitis in 57 (45.9%), and cryptogenic liver damage in 14 (11.3%). None was diagnosed as hereditary hemochromatosis (HH). Hepatic siderosis on liver biopsy was present in 17 of 54 (32%) patients; grade 1 in eight and grade 2 in nine. Overall, 92 patients (74.2%) had steatosis. By logistic regression, ferritin and gamma-glutamyltransferase were independent predictors of steatosis. Ferritin levels were significantly related to low platelet count, steatosis and hepatitis C virus infection.


In a non-obese cohort of non-alcoholic patients with chronically abnormal LFTs without HH, high serum ferritin level is a risk factor for steatosis.

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