Background: Hereditary haemochromatosis (HH) is a recessively-inherited disorder of iron over-absorption prevalent in Caucasian populations. Affected individuals for Type 1 HH are usually either homozygous for a cysteine to tyrosine amino acid substitution at position 282 (C282Y) of the HFE gene, or compound heterozygotes for C282Y and for a histidine to aspartic acid change at position 63 (H63D). Molecular genetic testing for these two mutations has become widespread in recent years. With diverse testing methods and reporting practices in use, there was a clear need for agreed guidelines for haemochromatosis genetic testing. The UK Clinical Molecular Genetics Society has elaborated a consensus process for the development of disease-specific best practice guidelines for genetic testing.
Methods: A survey of current practice in the molecular diagnosis of haemochromatosis was conducted. Based on the results of this survey, draft guidelines were prepared using the template developed by UK Clinical Molecular Genetics Society. A workshop was held to develop the draft into a consensus document. The consensus document was then posted on the Clinical Molecular Genetics Society website for broader consultation and amendment.
Results: Consensus or near-consensus was achieved on all points in the draft guidelines. The consensus and consultation processes worked well, and outstanding issues were documented in an appendix to the guidelines.
Conclusion: An agreed set of best practice guidelines were developed for diagnostic, predictive and carrier testing for hereditary haemochromatosis and for reporting the results of such testing.