Iron overload and prolonged ingestion of iron supplements: clinical features and mutation analysis of hemochromatosis-associated genes in four cases

Am J Hematol. 2006 Oct;81(10):760-7. doi: 10.1002/ajh.20714.


We evaluated and treated four white adults (one man, three women) who had iron overload associated with daily ingestion of iron supplements for 7, 15, 35, and 61 years, respectively. We performed HFE mutation analysis to detect C282Y, H63D, and S65C in each patient; in two patients, HFE exons were sequenced. In two patients, direct sequencing was performed to detect coding region mutations of TFR2, HAMP, FPN1, HJV, and ALAS2. Patients 1-4 ingested 153, 547, 1,341, and 4,898 g of inorganic iron as supplements. Patient 1 had hemochromatosis, HFE C282Y homozygosity, and beta-thalassemia minor. Patient 2 had spherocytosis and no HFE coding region mutations. Patient 3 had no anemia, a normal HFE genotype, and no coding region mutations in HAMP, FPN1, HJV, or ALAS2; she was heterozygous for the TFR2 coding region mutation V583I (nt 1,747 G-->A, exon 15). Patient 4 had no anemia and no coding region mutations in HFE, TFR2, HAMP, FPN1, HJV, or ALAS2. Iron removed by phlebotomy was 32.4, 10.4, 15.2, and 4.0 g, respectively. There was a positive correlation of log(10) serum ferritin and the quantity of iron removed by phlebotomy (P = 0.0371). Estimated absorption of iron from supplements in patients 1-4 was 20.9%, 1.9%, 1.1%, and 0.08%. We conclude that the clinical phenotypes and hemochromatosis genotypes of adults who develop iron overload after ingesting iron supplements over long periods are heterogeneous. Therapeutic phlebotomy is feasible and effective, and would prevent complications of iron overload.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Dietary Supplements / adverse effects*
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Hemochromatosis / chemically induced*
  • Hemochromatosis / diagnosis
  • Hemochromatosis / genetics*
  • Hemochromatosis Protein
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Iron / administration & dosage
  • Iron / adverse effects*
  • Iron Overload / chemically induced
  • Iron Overload / diagnosis*
  • Iron Overload / genetics
  • Male
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics*
  • Mutation


  • HFE protein, human
  • Hemochromatosis Protein
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Iron