HFE genotype and parameters of iron metabolism in German first-time blood donors - evidence for an increased transferrin saturation in C282Y heterozygotes.Z Gastroenterol. 2003 Nov; 41(11):1069-76.ZG
Hemochromatosis is usually inherited in an autosomal recessive mode and associated with missense mutations in the hemochromatosis gene (HFE), an HLA class 1 related gene. However the degree of penetrance is presently matter of debate.
To elucidate the frequency of HFE mutations in a German population and the relationship between genotype and phenotype, we determined the HFE C282Y and H63D genotypes in 500 first-time blood donors using an allele-specific ligase chain reaction (LCR). Ferritin and transferrin saturation (TS) of all donors found to have at least one mutation were compared to gender- and age-matched controls.
The C282Y allele frequency was 46 in 1000 chromosomes (4.6 %). The allele frequency of H63D was 108 in 1000 (10.8 %) chromosomes. We found three persons homozygous for H63D, nine compound heterozygotes and none homozygous for C282Y. TS was elevated in C282Y heterozygotes (p = 0.002) and C282Y/H63D compound heterozygotes (p = 0.04) compared to wild-type controls. Serum ferritin tended to be elevated in compound heterozygotes (p = 0.053). Mean corpuscular volume (MCV) and hemoglobin (MCH) were not different from controls.
The frequency of HFE mutations in the tested population was comparable to those of other northern European populations. The elevated TS in subjects carrying a single copy of the C282Y mutation suggests that C282Y heterozygosity is associated with an increased intestinal iron absorption and might therefore offer a selection advantage in conditions of iron depletion.