Background/aims: Recent evidence implicates iron as a comorbid factor for development of non-hemochromatotic liver diseases. Mutations or polymorphisms in the HFE gene or the TfR1 gene may influence the accumulation of iron in the liver or other tissues or may influence chronic viral hepatitis apart from effects on iron homeostasis. The aim of this study was to assess the role of hepatic iron, HFE and TfR1 variations on development and progression of chronic hepatitis C infection.
Methods: We studied 119 consecutive patients with chronic hepatitis C, correlating clinical, laboratory, histopathological, and genetic data. Frequencies of genetic variations were compared with local and national controls.
Results: HFE mutations were more common in patients than controls (48% vs. 38%, P=0.04), and advanced degrees of fibrosis developed at younger ages in subjects with the C282Y mutation (38.6 vs. 46.5 years, P=0.03). Patients carrying C282Y had higher mean hepatic iron concentrations (P=0.02), hepatic iron indices (P<=0.0001), and hepatic fibrosis scores (P=0.01). Hepatic fibrosis was correlated with hepatic iron concentration (P=0.03). TfR1 polymorphisms bore no detectable relation to disease severity or response to therapy.
Conclusions: Hepatic iron and HFE mutations are comorbid factors that increase development and progression of chronic hepatitis C.