Frequency and biochemical expression of C282Y/H63D hemochromatosis (HFE) gene mutations in the healthy adult population in Italy.J Hepatol. 2001 Apr; 34(4):523-8.JH
The actual prevalence of the main hemochromatosis (HFE) mutations in the Italian adult population and their phenotypic expression have not yet been established. This information is key to advocate a mass-screening program.
Two thousand one hundred adults were tested for the C282Y/H63D HFE gene mutations by an automated genotyping assay as well as transferrin saturation (TS) and serum ferritin levels.
No homozygotes for the C282Y mutation were found. Heterozygosity for the C282Y mutation was 3.1%, while heterozygosity and homozygosity for the H63D mutation were 21.5% and 2.5%, respectively. TS was significantly higher in C282Y heterozygotes and H63D homozygotes as compared to wild-type individuals (P < 0.01). Interestingly, of the HFE wild-type subjects 5.9% had a TS value above the 45% threshold.
This study shows that (i) the predicted prevalence for C282Y homozygosity in Italy is 1:3900; (ii) the C282Y/H63D wild-type population has an increased baseline of iron parameters possibly due to genetic factors not linked to the C282Y/H63D mutations; (iii) since in the latter population the actual tissue iron burden cannot be assessed, phenotypic (TS) screening in Italy is not recommended until the true prevalence of all mutations in the HFE gene and in other hemochromatosis genes will be established.