[Hereditary hyperferritinemia cataract syndrome--the first family in Germany]

Z Gastroenterol. 2009 Dec;47(12):1211. doi: 10.1055/s-0028-1109523.
[Article in German]


We report on a 23-year-old woman who presented with elevated serum ferritin values at our department. She had undergone cataract surgery at the age of 14 and her family pedigree showed hereditary autosomal-dominant cataract. The combination of isolated hyperferritinemia with autosomal-dominant hereditary cataract led to the diagnosis of the hereditary hyperferritinemia cataract syndrome (HHCS) which we now describe in a German family for the first time. HHCS was confirmed by detection of a causal mutation at position 32 within the iron responsive element (IRE) of L-ferritin leading to a guanine to adenine exchange and the pathognomonic star-shaped cataract. This mutation interrupts the post-transcriptional control of L-ferritin. It prevents binding of the iron regulatory protein 1 (IRP1) to the 5alpha untranslated region of L-ferritin resulting in uncontrolled L-ferritin synthesis and high serum ferritin levels independent of the body iron stores. Premature cataract is eventually caused by deposition of L-ferritin crystals in the lens of the eye. Our family shows the typical autosomal-dominant inheritance of HHCS over four generations affecting a total of 17 family members. The causal mutation, star-shaped cataract and typical laboratory configuration were confirmed in five patients. Thus, in gastroenterological practice, HHCS should be added as a differential diagnosis of hyperferritinemia in Germany. Importantly, patients with HHCS can be spared from invasive diagnostics such as liver biopsy.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Apoferritins / genetics*
  • Cataract / diagnosis*
  • Cataract / genetics*
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics
  • Heterozygote
  • Humans
  • Iron Metabolism Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Iron Metabolism Disorders / genetics*
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide / genetics
  • Syndrome


  • Apoferritins