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Genet Test. 2000;4(2):199-206.

Transferrin saturation phenotype and HFE genotype screening for hemochromatosis and primary iron overload: predictions from a model based on national, racial, and ethnic group composition in central Alabama.

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Southern Iron Disorders Center, Birmingham, AL 35209, USA.


There is interest in general population screening for hemochromatosis and other primary iron overload disorders, although not all persons are at equal risk. We developed a model to estimate the numbers of persons in national, racial, or ethnic population subgroups in Jefferson County, Alabama, who would be detected using transferrin saturation (phenotype) or HFE mutation analysis (genotype) screening. Approximately 62% are Caucasians, 37% are African Americans, and the remainder are Hispanics, Asians, or Native Americans. The predicted phenotype frequencies are greatest in a Caucasian subgroup, ethnicity unspecified, which consists predominantly of persons of Scotch and Irish descent (0.0065 men, 0.0046 women), and in African Americans (0.0089 men, 0.0085 women). Frequencies of the HFE genotype C282Y/C282Y > or = 0.0001 are predicted to occur only among Caucasians; the greatest frequency (0.0080) was predicted to occur in the ethnicity-unspecified Caucasian population. C282Y/C282Y frequency estimates were lower in Italian, Greek, and Jewish subgroups. There is excellent agreement in the numbers of the ethnicity-unspecified Caucasians who would be detected using phenotype and genotype criteria. Our model also indicates that phenotyping would identify more persons with primary iron overload than would genotyping in our Italian Caucasian, Hispanic, and African American subgroups. This is consistent with previous observations that indicate that primary iron overload disorders in persons of southern Italian descent and African Americans are largely attributable to non-HFE alleles. Because the proportions of population subgroups and their genetic constitution may differ significantly in other geographic regions, we suggest that models similar to the present one be constructed to predict optimal screening strategies for primary iron overload disorders.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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