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Original Article                                                    JOURNAL OF CLINICAL AND EXPERIMENTAL HEPATOLOGY       ...
HEMOCHROMATOSIS GENE MUTATIONS                                                                                    SINI ET ...
JOURNAL OF CLINICAL AND EXPERIMENTAL HEPATOLOGYfunction tests, autoantibody screening including antinu-                 Ta...
HEMOCHROMATOSIS GENE MUTATIONS                                                                                            ...
JOURNAL OF CLINICAL AND EXPERIMENTAL HEPATOLOGYinterferon.10 These observations indicate the important                  tr...
HEMOCHROMATOSIS GENE MUTATIONS                                                                                            ...
JOURNAL OF CLINICAL AND EXPERIMENTAL HEPATOLOGY      hemochromatosis and chronic hepatitis C infection. J Hepatol.        ...
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Hemochromatosis Gene Mutations: Prevalence and Effects on Pegylated-Interferon and Ribavirin Therapy Response in Chronic Hepatitis C in Sardinia


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Background/Aims: Considerable evidence suggests that iron could be a comorbid factor for liver injury in chronic
hepatitis C (CHC). Elevated iron indices are frequently described in CHC and may impact negatively on the
course of liver disease and on the response to interferon alfa therapy. Get more to visit this:

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Hemochromatosis Gene Mutations: Prevalence and Effects on Pegylated-Interferon and Ribavirin Therapy Response in Chronic Hepatitis C in Sardinia

  1. 1. Original Article JOURNAL OF CLINICAL AND EXPERIMENTAL HEPATOLOGY Hemochromatosis Gene Mutations: Prevalence and Effects on Pegylated-Interferon and Ribavirin Therapy Response in Chronic Hepatitis C in Sardinia Margherita Sini, Orazio Sorbello, Alberto Civolani, Luigi Demelia Department of Gastroenterology, Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria di Cagliari, SS 554 bivio per Sestu, 09130 Cagliari, Italy Background/Aims: Considerable evidence suggests that iron could be a comorbid factor for liver injury in chronic hepatitis C (CHC). Elevated iron indices are frequently described in CHC and may impact negatively on the course of liver disease and on the response to interferon alfa therapy. The aim of this study was to evaluate the frequency of hemochromatosis gene mutations in Sardinian CHC patients, the association with iron overload and the impact on response to therapy. Methods: Sixty-nine CHC patients were enrolled. Iron indices, hepatic and viral parameters were detected. C282Y, H63D and S65C mutations were identified through a PCR. Liver biopsy was performed for hepatic fibrosis evaluation. All patients were treated for 6 months (viral genotype 2/3) or 12 months (viral genotype 1/4) with pegylated-interferon 180 mcg once weekly and ribavirin 1000– 1200 mg/daily. Sustained virological response (SVR) was defined as undetectable HCV RNA 24 weeks after the end of treatment. Results: HFE gene mutation was detected in 29 patients (42%). The presence of HFE mutations was significantly associated with elevated transferrin saturation (P < 0.01). Hepatic fibrosis was more advanced in HFE mutation carriers (c2, P = 0.04). Among mutation carriers 27.5% achieved responses at the end of treatment compared with 60% of non-carriers (P = 0.005). Patients with HFE wildtype produced significant SVR compared with patients with HFE mutations (P = 0.03). Conclusions: The literature shows discordant results about the prev- Chronic Hepatitis C alence, hepatic distribution and possible therapeutic implications of iron overload in chronic hepatitis C. Our findings shows that HFE gene mutations could favor, synergically with CHC and other genetic or acquired fac- tors, the development of liver damage and could influence the outcome of interferon treatment with higher rate of non-response. ( J CLIN EXP HEPATOL 2012;2:211–217)I ron is an essential micronutrient which plays a key role proteins and nucleic acids.2 Iron-induced oxidant stress in a wide range of biochemical pathways that govern is involved in this process as the primary cause of parenchy- cellular metabolism, including those that are essential mal cell necrosis or as activator of cells that are effectors orfor cellular respiration as well as DNA, RNA and protein key mediators of hepatic fibrogenesis. The fibrogenic po-synthesis. Iron balance is regulated at the absorptive step, tential of iron in the liver is even more important whenbut the mechanism by which the mucosa accomplishes iron acts simultaneously with other hepatotoxic factors.3this has not been defined. There is no effective physiologi- The intestinal iron absorption appears to be disturbed incal mechanism for the excretion of excess body iron, hence Hereditary Hemochromatosis (HH). The homozygous stateincreased absorption of iron would increase body iron in which both alleles of chromosome 6 possess the C282Ystores, mainly in the liver.1 Iron has been shown to increase mutation or the compound heterozygous state withthe formation of reactive oxygen intermediates that lead to C282Y on one chromosome and H63D on the other, arelipid peroxidation and subsequent oxidative damage to the predominant genetic abnormalities associated with phe- notypic HH.4 A third mutation, S65C, is considered to be a rather new polymorphism.5 “In Europe, the C282Y alleleKeywords: HFE gene, iron overload, viral hepatitis has a north to west frequency- decreasing gradient, withReceived: 15.5.2012; Accepted: 9.6.2012; Available online: 27.8.2012 higher frequencies reported in Ireland (28.4%) and lower fre-Address for correspondence: Orazio Sorbello, Department of Gastroenterology, quencies in Italy (3.2%). Conversely, the H63D allele hasAzienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria di Cagliari, SS 554 bivio per Sestu, 09130Cagliari, Italy. Tel./fax: +39 070 51096100 a higher frequency in southern Europe (Spain, 32.3%) andE-mail: a lower frequency in the Celtic populations (5%).6Abbreviations: ALT: alanine aminotransferase; AST: aspartate aminotrans- The Sardinian population is genetically differentiatedferase; AP: alkaline phosphatase; CHC: Chronic hepatitis C; ETR: End of from the other Caucasian populations. It represents a ge-treatment response; GGT: g-glutamyl transpeptidase; HFE: Human he- netic isolate where the p.C282Y mutation is considered asmochromatosis protein; HCV: Hepatitis virus C infection determination;HH: Hereditary Hemochromatosis; SVR: Sustained virologic response; rare or even absent. Candore et al studied the frequency ofTSI: Transferin saturation index; ULN: Upper normal limit; WT: wildtype the HFE gene mutations in five Italian populations. In Italy, the allele frequency of the C282Y mutation decreases from© 2012, INASL Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hepatology | September 2012 | Vol. 2 | No. 3 | 211–217
  2. 2. HEMOCHROMATOSIS GENE MUTATIONS SINI ET AL northeast Italy (Friuli, 6%) to northwest Italy (Piemont, Liver Function Tests 4.8%) and to central Italy (Emilia-Romagna, 1.7%). However, Liver function tests including alanine aminotransferase this mutation is lacking in Sardinia. In contrast, no differ- (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alkaline phos- ence was observed in allele frequency of H63D in the five phatase (AP), g-glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT), pseudo- Italian regions (Friuli 12%—Sardinia 17.5%).7 Several studies cholinesterase, bilirubin and albumin were detected. assessed that no association exist between the HFE genetic variants and chronic liver disease. Overall, only a few studies HCV Determination have suggested an increased prevalence of HFE mutations in CHC patients,8,9 with respect to the general population; this Diagnosis of hepatitis C virus infection was based on a pos- observation was not confirmed in other studies.10 Labora- itive anti-HCV assay (ELISA III) and quantification of tory abnormalities of iron metabolism have been detected Hepatitis virus C infection determination (HCV) RNA by in 15–20% of heterozygotes, but heterozygosity for hemo- PCR (Cobas Amplicor; Roche, Basel, Switzerland), HCV ge- chromatosis is rarely associated with liver damage due notypes were determined by INNO-LiPA HCV II assay only to iron overload. Complications have been recognized (Bayer Diagnostics, Leverkusen, Germany) and classified only when other disorders, such as porphyria cutanea tarda, according to Simmonds et al.19 chronic anemia, alcoholism and hepatitis are also present.11 Over the last 20 years, considerable evidence suggested that Iron Parameters a pathogenetic link exists between the iron content of the Quantitative determination of iron concentrations in se- liver and viral hepatitis. Elevated iron indices are frequently rum was performed on automated clinical chemistry ana- described in CHC and may impact negatively on the course lyzers (Hitachi), using a colorimetric assay (Roche). Both of liver disease and on the response to interferon alfa ferritin and transferrin levels were measured by immunotur- therapy.12À14 HFE gene mutations may play a role in the bidimetric assays using the Tina-quant reagents (Roche). development of significant iron overload in patients with Transferrin saturation index (TSI) was calculated as Fe/total CHC and could represent a clinically relevant comorbid Fe-binding capacity  100 (normal value 16–45%).Chronic Hepatitis C factor in patients with chronic hepatitis C.15–17 There are several host characteristics known to affect out- Histological Evaluation come of interferon treatment, including age, gender, im- Liver biopsies were obtained employing the Menghini tech- mune surveillance system, nutritional state and iron status.18 nique under ultrasound guidance in 69 patients. For histo- The aim of our study was to evaluate the impact of HFE logical examination, paraffin-embedded 4 mm sections gene mutations on disease severity and response to inter- were stained with hematoxylin and eosin, trichrome, and feron therapy in a cohort of Sardinian patients with Perls Prussian blue. Liver histology was evaluated in Chronic Hepatitis C. a blinded manner according to the Desmet classification.20 MATERIALS AND METHODS Genetic Analysis Patients Genomic DNA was isolated from either EDTA anticoagu- Sixty-nine patients with chronic hepatitis C (53 male/16 fe- lated whole blood. Detection of C282Y, S65C and H63D male, mean age 51 Æ 2 years) were enrolled at the Division mutations in the Human hemochromatosis protein of Internal Medicine and Digestive Pathologies, University (HFE) gene were performed using PCR amplification. Hospital of Cagliari. The following specific inclusion criteria were fulfilled by Study Design and Protocol all patients: age 18–65 years, elevated serum ALT levels All patients were treated for 6 months (viral genotype 2/3) above twice the normal range for at least 6 months before or 12 months (viral genotype 1/4) with pegylated-inter- enrollment; positive test for anti-HCV antibodies; positive feron (PEG-IFN) (Pegasys—Roche) 180 mcg once weekly, test for HCV RNA; histological diagnosis of chronic hepa- self-administered subcutaneously together with ribavirin titis with or without cirrhosis. (Rebetol—Schering-Plough) 1000–1200 mg/daily by body The exclusion criteria included: decompensated liver weight, orally in two divided doses. disease, systemic diseases, cancer, hemolytic anemia, neu- All patients were observed every 2 weeks for the first tropenia <1000/mcl, thrombocytopenia <100  103/mcl, month and every 4 weeks thereafter during treatment. Af- serological HBsAg positivity, HIV infection, drug addic- ter the 24–48-week therapy period, patients were followed tion, alcohol abuse, hepatotoxic drugs usage, autoimmune up at 4 week intervals for 6 months. For assessment of ther- hepatitis, pregnancy, psychiatric illness, renal impairment, apy compliance, adverse effects, response to the treatment Wilsons Disease, Hereditary Hemochromatosis and alpha- and its relationship with HFE gene mutations, patients un- 1-antitrypsin deficiency. None of the patients had received derwent laboratory measurements of liver function tests, previous interferon-alpha therapy. full blood count, serum HCV RNA concentration, thyroid 212 © 2012, INASL
  3. 3. JOURNAL OF CLINICAL AND EXPERIMENTAL HEPATOLOGYfunction tests, autoantibody screening including antinu- Table 1 Base-line characteristics of 69 patients with HCVclear factors and anti-thyroid antibodies and serum iron infection.aparameters. Range A complete response at the end of treatment was de- N 69fined as the normalization of serum ALT levels and nega- Gender (M/F) 53/16tive serum HCV RNA. A sustained complete responsewas defined as maintenance of remission after cessation Age (years) 51 Æ 2 25–65of treatment for 24 weeks or more. Patients were divided Alanine aminotransferase (UI/dl) 139 Æ 29 85–480in two groups according to HFE gene mutations: Group Viral genotype—n (%)A, which included subjects with HFE gene wildtype and 1–4 46 (67%)Group B, subjects with HFE gene mutations. Biochemical 2–3 23 (33%)parameters, iron indices, liver histology, End of TreatmentResponse (ETR) and Sustained Virologic Response (SVR) HFE genotype—n (%)were compared between the two groups. Patients who dis- Wildtype 40 (58%)continued treatment during follow-up were considered as HFE mutation 29 (42%)virologic non-responders. All patients were informed of Serum iron (mg/dl) 127 Æ 8 15–312the purpose of the study and of known side-effects associ- Serum ferritin (ng/ml) 271 Æ 24 18–856ated with both drugs, and written informed consent forliver biopsy and therapy was obtained. Transferrin saturation index (%) 46% 26–62 Normal range: Transferrin, 110–370 mg/dl.Statistical Analysis Plus–minus values are means Æ SEM. a Upper normal limit (ULN) of laboratory data: ALT, 41 UI/l; Serum iron,Results are presented as mean Æ SEM. Statistical analyses 158 mg/dl; Serum ferritin, 250 ng/ml; Transferrin saturation, 45%.were performed using StatView 5.0 (SAS Institute). De-scriptive statistics were calculated and test of normality Chronic Hepatitis Cwere performed. For continuous variables, the values ofwhich were found to be distributed normally, parametricstatistical procedures were used, including paired t-testand unpaired t-test. For discontinuous variables, non- Table 2 Base-line characteristics of 40 HFE wildtype patientsparametric procedures, including Wilcoxons signed-rank and 29 patients with HFE mutation.atest and Mann–Whitney U test, were carried out as appro- HFE wildtype HFE mutation P-valuepriate. Comparisons between the frequencies of observa-tion were performed using the c2 test. Significance N 40 29criteria of P 0.05 was used for all inferences. Gender (M/F) 32/8 25/4 ns Age (years) 50 Æ 1 52 Æ 2 ns ALT (UI/dl) 186 Æ 59 151 Æ 27 nsRESULTS AP (U/l) 183 Æ 13 209 Æ 22 nsHFE Genotypes GGT (U/l) 71 Æ 8 108 Æ 20 0.05The clinical characteristics of the 69 HCV-infected pa- Bilirubin total (mg/dl) 0.6 Æ 0.06 0.8 Æ 0.1 nstients are reported in Table 1. The base-line characteristicsof the 69 patients grouped by HFE genotype are shown in Serum iron (mg/dl) 118 Æ 9 149 Æ 13 nsTable 2. At least one of the three HFE gene mutations was Serum ferritin (ng/ml) 280 Æ 34 327 Æ 32 nspresent in 42% of the patients. One patient was heterozy- Transferrin saturation(%) 43.4% 50% 0.01gous for the C282Y mutation (1.4%), 22 were heterozy- Histological fibrosisgous for the H63D mutation (31.8%), three (4.3%) were Stage I 10/40 (25%) 4/29 (13.8%) P = 0.04bheterozygous for the S65C mutation, two patients(2.8%) were homozygous for the H63D mutation and Stage II 15/40 (37.5%) 5/29 (17.2%)one patient (1.4%) was a compound heterozygote for Stage III 11/40 (27.5%) 10/29 (34.5%)the H63D and S65C mutation. Stage IV 4/40 (10%) 10/29 (34.5%) No significant differences were observed for age, gender Genotype—n (%) distribution, ALT, serum iron and ferritin levels and viral 1–4 27 (67.5%) 19 (65.5%) nsgenotype between HFE mutant patients and wildtype ho-mozygotes. 2–3 13 (32.5%) 10 (34.5%) Transferrin saturation index (TSI) showed a significant a Plus–minus values are means Æ SEM.statistical difference between HFE mutant patients (50%) b 2 c test.Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hepatology | September 2012 | Vol. 2 | No. 3 | 211–217 213
  4. 4. HEMOCHROMATOSIS GENE MUTATIONS SINI ET AL and wildtype homozygotes (43%) (P 0.01). The degree of 120 hepatic fibrosis was evaluated by HFE genotype in 69 pa- Percentage of subjects 100 tients (Figure 1). Thirty-five of 69 (51%) patients had ad- ETR SVR 80 vanced fibrosis (Stage score III–IV); twenty of 29 (69%) patients had a HFE gene mutation and a histological stage 60 P=0.005 P=0.03 III–IV, while only 15 of 40 (39%) HFE wildtype patients pre- 40 sented histological stage III–IV. There was a close associa- 20 tion between advanced histological score and the presence of HFE gene mutation (c2, P = 0.04). 0 NR R NR R HFE mutation WT End of Treatment Response and Sustained Virological Response Evaluation of Antiviral Figure 2 End of the Treatment Response (ETR) and Sustained Viral Response (SVR) were lower among patients with HFE gene mutations Therapy compared to those with HFE gene WT (wildtype) (c2, P = 0.005 and At the end of treatment, both serum ALT levels normalized P = 0.03 respectively). and HCV RNA became negative in 32 of 69 patients (46%). Seven of 69 patients (10%) did not complete the treat- DISCUSSION ment; these patients stopped prematurely for side-effects associated with the use of PEG-IFN and ribavirin combina- Interest in the role of iron in CHC began when Di Bisceglie tion therapy (1 for neutropenia and thrombocytopenia, 3 et al found that up to 36% of patients with chronic hepati- for hypothyroidism and 3 for depression). The relationship tis C had elevated serum iron parameters.7 between HFE gene mutations and response to antiviral A substantial number of these patients also have in- therapy was investigated. creased iron deposition in the liver.21 Furthermore, HCV- At the end of treatment the viral and biochemical re- infected patients with stainable iron in liver biopsies showed sponse rates were lower among the patients with HFE enhanced liver fibrosis compared with controls without de-Chronic Hepatitis C gene mutations 8/29 (27.5%) compared to those with tectable iron.22 The hypothesis that iron is a risk factor for HFE gene wildtype 30/40 (75%) (c2, P = 0.005) (Figure 2). liver injury in CHC patients was supported by a recent exper- Of the patients with genotype 1–4 infection, the end of imental report that excess dietary iron exacerbated liver in- treatment response rate was higher in group A (14/27; jury in HCV-infected chimpanzees.23 The mechanism by 51.8%) compared to group B (2/19; 10.5%) (c2, which iron accumulates in liver infected with chronic P = 0.003), while no significant difference was observed be- HCV has not yet been established. Di Bisceglie et al reported tween patients with HFE gene mutation (5/10; 50%) and that serum iron and ferritin levels were increased in patients HFE gene wildtype with genotype 2–3 infection (11/13; with CHC because of their release from hepatocellular stores 77%) (Figure 3). At the end of 24 weeks of post-treatment in association with cell necrosis.6 follow-up period, 32/69 (46.3%) patients produced SVR. Alternatively, individuals with serum iron levels in the The difference of SVR rate between 25/40 patients upper range of normal as a result of genetic polymor- (62.5%) with HFE wildtype and 7/29 of HFE mutant phisms or a high iron diet may be predisposed to develop (24.1%) was statistically significant (c2, P = 0.03) (Figure 3). more severe chronic HCV infections.6 It has been suggested that iron overload in the liver of patients with CHC is asso- ciated with higher ALT levels and decreased response to 40 35 30 120 25 100 Percentage of subjects 20 80 P=0.003 ns 15 60 10 40 5 20 0 0 HFE WT HFE mutation 1-4 NR 1-4 R 2-3 NR 2-3 R Stage I Stage II Stage III Stage IV HFE mutation WT Figure 1 Relationship between stage of fibrosis and HFE gene status. A Figure 3 Relationship between HFE gene mutation and Sustained Viral significant association exists between advanced histological score and Response (SVR) in 46 patients with viral genotype 1–4 and 23 patients the presence of HFE gene mutation (c2, P = 0.04). WT, Wildtype. with viral genotype 2–3. NR, NonResponders; R, Responders. 214 © 2012, INASL
  5. 5. JOURNAL OF CLINICAL AND EXPERIMENTAL HEPATOLOGYinterferon.10 These observations indicate the important transferrin saturation index (TSI) showed a significant sta-role of iron in the pathogenesis of CHC. In fact patients tistical difference between HFE mutant patients (50%) andwith combined hereditary hemochromatosis and chronic wildtype homozygotes (43.4%) (P 0.01). Instead, no signif-hepatitis C infection presented advanced fibrosis/cirrhosis icant difference was observed for other indirect markers ofat a younger age and at a lower hepatic iron concentration iron stores such as serum iron and serum ferritin. These pa-compared to HH patients. This supports the concept that rameters lack specificity, particularly in the face of chronicthe combination of iron overload and HCV has a potentiat- inflammatory conditions or alcohol-induced liver disease.27ing effect on hepatic fibrogenesis.24 Previous reports suggested that TSI measurement appears Iron can be a profibrogenic factor, acting as activator of to be the most sensitive method of detecting iron overloadboth hepatic stellate cells and Kupffer cells and inducing states and showed that TSI values exceeding 45% correctlyliver inflammation or hepatocyte necrosis. In fact the pres- identified 97.9% of homozygotes for Hereditary Hemochro-ence of stainable iron on liver biopsy of patients with viral matosis, with no false positives among the normal popula-hepatitis correlates with a higher degree of necroinflamma- tion, and 22.2% of the heterozygote population. Detectingtory activity and a higher score for fibrosis compared to the threshold for TSI to 45% could also identify otherthose with no stainable iron.25 The coexistence of hemo- groups with relatively minor degrees of secondary iron over-chromatosis gene mutations represents a genetic risk fac- load, such as chronic hepatitis C.33,34 Recent evidencetor affecting the severity of chronic hepatitis C and the suggests that HFE gene mutations and a consequent mildresponse rate to interferon therapy.26À28 iron overload may worsen the course of chronic hepatitis The results of our study indicate that the prevalence C and increase the progression of fibrosis.22–35of the three known HFE gene mutations in Sardinia is in The results of our study showed that a significant asso-accordance with previous observations in other countries: ciation exists between advanced histological score and the(5–10% for the C282Y mutation and 6–30% for the H63D presence of HFE gene mutation (c2, P = 0.04). The fact thatmutation),29,30 specifically 42% of our HCV-infected patients heterozygote for hereditary hemochromatosis andpatients carried at least one of these mutations. infected with hepatitis C virus report greater fibrosis than Chronic Hepatitis CHeterozygous C282Y status and homo- or heterozygosity those with homozygous wildtype provides additional evi-for the H63D and S65C mutations do not usually induce dence that iron modulates fibrosis in chronic hepatitis C.hemochromatosis phenotype and are rarely associated Despite these observations, the association between serumwith liver damage in healthy subjects.31 Nevertheless, labo- iron values, hepatic iron stores and hepatic necroinflam-ratory abnormalities of iron metabolism (higher serum matory activity or fibrosis remains controversial. HFEiron concentration, transferrin—saturation values and se- gene mutations may have a potentiating effect on histolog-rum ferritin concentrations) have been detected in 15–20% ical severity, acting synergically with CHC in the develop-of heterozygotes.6–26 Complications have been recognized ment of liver damage.only when other disorders, such as alcoholism and viral Iron overload seems to impair antigen-specific immunehepatitis are present.6–26 HFE gene mutations may responses by decreasing the generation of T cells and bycontribute to iron storage and could represent a clinically impairment of natural killer and T helper cell function. Pi-relevant comorbid factor in patients with chronic hepatitis perno et al 3 suggested that iron overload in patients withC. Sebastiani et al summarize the current status of the hemochromatosis may contribute to the persistence ofliterature regarding the prevalence, hepatic distribution of HCV infection: iron overload may in theory promote viraliron overload in liver disease.32 In this review the role of replication. Moreover, iron overload has been incriminatedHFE mutations as a risk factor for iron overload in CHC as one of the essential factors that hamper response tohas been studied in different populations, with discordant interferon-alpha in CHC.3–36 The amount of hepatic ironresults. Our results evidenced a correlation between HFE has been identified as one of these factors that adverselygene mutation and iron overload. TSI is the only serum affect the likelihood of response to interferon-alpha; thoseiron parameter that showed a statistically significant differ- patients with higher hepatic iron content are less likely toence between HFE gene wildtype and mutation, while serum respond to interferon therapy.37 Retrospective evidenceiron and serum ferritin were higher in HFE mutation but that the amount of hepatic iron may modulate the re-did not obtain a statistically difference. We can assess that sponse of the hepatitis C virus to interferon therapy wasseveral aspecific factors seem to favor marked variations of provided by Van Thiel et al13 who reported that hepaticserum iron and serum ferritin and we considered TSI as iron content of interferon nonresponders was found tothe most specific and sensitive parameter in identifying be almost twice that of responders. The influence of hostiron overload. The present study provides evidence support- and viral factors on the natural course of CHC and efficacying the view that the HFE gene mutations are associated of PEG-IFN and Ribavirin therapy has been intensivelywith significant abnormalities of iron metabolism and sug- studied. The presence of HFE gene mutations may be angests that patients with CHC accumulate iron as the result additional factor to be considered among those implicatedof interplay between genetic and acquired factors. In fact in the determination of a lower rate of sustained virologicalJournal of Clinical and Experimental Hepatology | September 2012 | Vol. 2 | No. 3 | 211–217 215
  6. 6. HEMOCHROMATOSIS GENE MUTATIONS SINI ET AL response to PEG-IFN plus ribavirin in chronic hepatitis C 3. Piperno A, Fargion S, DAlba, et al. Liver damage in Italian patients patients. with hereditary hemochromatosis is highly influenced by hepatitis B and C virus infection. J Hepatol. 1992;16(3):364–368. In the present study, ETR rates were lower among pa- 4. Riedel HD, Stremmel W. The haemochromatosis gene. J Hepatol. tients with HFE gene mutations compared to those with 1997;26:941–944. HFE gene wildtype (P = 0.005). In patients with 1–4 HCV 5. Holmstrom P, Marmur J, Eggertsen G, et al. Mild iron overload in pa- genotype infection, the ETR rate was higher in group A tients carrying the HFE S65C gene mutation: a retrospective study (51.9%) as compared with group B (P = 0.003). in patients with suspected iron overload and healthy controls. Gut. 2002;51(5):723–730. No significant response difference was observed between 6. Merryweather-Clarke AT, Pointon JJ, Jouanolle AM, et al. Geography of patients with HFE gene mutation and HFE gene wildtype in HFE C282Y and H63D mutations. Genet Test. 2000;4(2):183–198. genotype 2–3. The small number of non-1–4 genotype pa- 7. Candore G, Mantovani V, Balistreri CR, et al. Frequency of the HFE tients could have accounted for the lack of statistical signif- gene mutations in five Italian populations. Blood Cells Mol Dis. icance between the two groups. A sustained virological 2002 Nov–Dec;29(3):267–273. 8. Smith BC, Gorve J, Guzail MA, et al. Heterozygosity for hereditary response was seen in 18.8%. The patients with HFE wildtype hemochromatosis is associated with more fibrosis in chronic hepa- produced significant SVR compared with patients with HFE titis C. Hepatology. 1998;27:1695–1699. mutations (P = 0.03). Despite the number of patients in our 9. Kazemi-Shirazi L, Datz C, Maier-Dobersberger T, et al. The relation study being too limited for meaningful statistical analysis, of iron status and hemochromatosis gene mutations in patients several comments can be made concerning the end of treat- with chronic hepatitis C. Gastroenterology. 1999;116:127–134. 10. Martinelli AL, Franco RF, Villanova MG, et al. Are haemochromato- ment and sustained responders. We have observed that sis mutations related to the severity of liver disease in hepatitis C PEG-IFN/ribavirin therapy is less effective in patients with virus infection? Acta Haematol. 2000;102:152–156. 1–4 HCV genotype and HFE gene mutation. Moreover, in 11. Bulaj Zaneta J, Griffen Linda M, Jorde Lynn B, Edwards Corwin Q, our patients with genotype 1–4 infection, TSI was signifi- Kushner James. Clinical and biochemical abnormalities in people cantly higher than those with genotype 2–3 infection and heterozygous for hemochromatosis. N Engl J Med. 1996;335: 1799–1805. viral genotype distribution did not differ significantly 12. Di Bisceglie AM, Axiotis CA, Hoofnagle JH, Bacon BR. Measure- between HFE mutant patients and wildtype homozygotes. ments of iron status in patients with chronic hepatitis. Gastroenter-Chronic Hepatitis C Therefore, HFE gene mutations may act synergically with ology. 1992;102:2108–2113. CHC in the development of liver damage, predicting a higher 13. Van thiel DH, Friedlander L, Fagiuoli S, et al. Response to interferon rate of non-response to PEG-IFN–ribavirin therapy. alfa therapy is influenced by the iron content of the liver. J Hepatol. 1994;20:410–415. We suggest that screening for HFE mutations and iron 14. Farinati F, Carin R, De Maria N, et al. Iron storage, lipid peroxidation parameters should be considered in patients with CHC. and glutathione turnover in chronic anti-HCV positive hepatitis. Therapies that specifically reduce iron levels should be de- J Hepatol. 1995;22:449–456. signed to lessen the severity of HCV infection in patients 15. Tung BY, Emond MJ, Bronner MP, Raaka SD, Cotler SJ, Kowdley KV. with HFE gene mutation and to enhance the outcome of Hepatitis C, iron status and disease severity: relationship with HFE mutations. Gastroenterology. 2003;124:318–326. antiviral therapies. 16. Geier A, Reugels M, Weischirken R, et al. Common heterozygous hemochromatosis gene mutations are risk factors for inflammation and fibrosis in chronic hepatitis C. Liver Int. 2004;24(4):285–294. CONFLICTS OF INTEREST 17. Hohler T, Leininger S, Kohler HH, Schirmacher P, Galle PR. Hetero- There are no commercial associations (e.g. consultancies, zygosity for hemochromatosis gene in liver diseases: prevalence stock ownership, equity interests, patent licensing arrange- and effects on liver histology. Liver. 2000;20(6):482–486. 18. Olynyc JK, Reddy KR, Di Bisceglie AM, et al. 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