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J Hepatol. 2010 Nov;53(5):927-33. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2010.05.023. Epub 2010 Jul 25.

Beta-globin mutations are associated with parenchymal siderosis and fibrosis in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Università degli Studi Milano, UO Medicina Interna 1B, Fondazione Ospedale Policlinico MaRE IRCCS, Milan, Italy.



Parenchymal liver siderosis is associated with increased fibrosis in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The aim of this study was to assess whether a panel of genetic variants previously reported to influence iron metabolism, including the C282Y/H63D HFE, the PiZ/PiS alpha1-antitrypsin, the IVS1-24 ferroportin polymorphisms, and the beta-thalassemia trait, may be able to predict the presence of parenchymal siderosis and of progressive fibrosis in NAFLD.


We considered 274 Italian patients with biopsy-proven NAFLD. Genetic polymorphisms were searched for by sequence allele specific-polymerase chain reaction and restriction analysis, whereas beta-trait was determined according to blood count and HbA(2) determination.


Parenchymal iron deposition was predominantly observed in 32 (11.7%) patients. Heterozygosity for the C282Y (OR 1.87, 95% CI 1.04-3.25), homozygosity for the H63D HFE (OR 2.31, 95% CI 1.04-4) mutations, and the beta-thalassemia trait (OR 2.57 95% CI 1.49-4.47) were all predominantly associated with parenchymal siderosis, independently of age, sex, body mass index, alcohol intake, ferritin, and transferrin saturation. Sixty-three percent of patients with hepatocellular siderosis were positive for at least one of the aforementioned genetic variants. The beta-thalassemia trait had the highest positive and the lowest negative likelihood ratios for predominantly parenchymal iron accumulation (5.05 and 0.74, respectively), and was independently associated with moderate/severe fibrosis (OR 2.50, 95% CI 1.26-5.19).


In patients with NAFLD, predominant hepatocellular iron deposition is often related to genetic factors, among which beta-globin mutations play a major role, predisposing to parenchymal iron accumulation and to progressive liver fibrosis.

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