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Hum Pathol. 1996 Dec;27(12):1277-81.

Iron overload in patients with chronic hepatitis C: a clinicopathologic study.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA.


Recent studies suggest that increased hepatic iron may impair the response to interferon therapy in patients with chronic hepatitis C. We reviewed the records and liver biopsies of 72 patients with chronic hepatitis C to determine the prevalence of iron overload and to evaluate whether there is a correlation between serum and hepatic iron concentrations and activity of liver disease. Patients with other causes of liver disease or iron overload were excluded. Necroinflammatory activity and fibrosis were evaluated using modified Knodell score. Hepatic iron was assessed using Brissot's grading system. Increased serum iron and ferritin levels were found in 29% and 43% patients, respectively. Hepatic iron grades 0, I, II, III, and IV were present in 37%, 35%, 25%, 3%, and 0% of patients, respectively. A significant correlation was found between hepatic iron grade and serum ferritin (P = .0001). There was no correlation between hepatic iron grade and histological activity index or fibrosis score. In summary, we found a high proportion of patients with chronic hepatitis C had mild to moderate increase in hepatic iron content even when patients with alcoholism and recurrent transfusions were excluded. However, very few patients had severely increased iron load.

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