Low serum iron levels are associated with elevated plasma levels of coagulation factor VIII and pulmonary emboli/deep venous thromboses in replicate cohorts of patients with hereditary haemorrhagic telangiectasia

Thorax. 2012 Apr;67(4):328-33. doi: 10.1136/thoraxjnl-2011-201076. Epub 2011 Dec 14.


Background: Elevated plasma levels of coagulation factor VIII are a strong risk factor for pulmonary emboli and deep venous thromboses.

Objectives: To identify reversible biomarkers associated with high factor VIII and assess potential significance in a specific at-risk population.

Patients/methods: 609 patients with hereditary haemorrhagic telangiectasia were recruited prospectively in two separate series at a single centre. Associations between log-transformed factor VIII measured 6 months from any known thrombosis/illness, and patient-specific variables including markers of inflammation and iron deficiency, were assessed in stepwise multiple regression analyses. Age-specific incidence rates of radiologically proven pulmonary emboli/deep venous thromboses were calculated, and logistic regression analyses performed.

Results: In each series, there was an inverse association between factor VIII and serum iron that persisted after adjustment for age, inflammation and/or von Willebrand factor. Iron response elements within untranslated regions of factor VIII transcripts provide potential mechanisms for the association. Low serum iron levels were also associated with venous thromboemboli (VTE): the age-adjusted OR of 0.91 (95% CI 0.86 to 0.97) per 1 μmol/litre increase in serum iron implied a 2.5-fold increase in VTE risk for a serum iron of 6 μmol/litre compared with the mid-normal range (17 μmol/litre). The association appeared to depend on factor VIII, as once adjusted for factor VIII, the association between VTE and iron was no longer evident.

Conclusions: In this population, low serum iron levels attributed to inadequate replacement of haemorrhagic iron losses are associated with elevated plasma levels of coagulation factor VIII and venous thromboembolic risk. Potential implications for other clinical populations are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Factor VIII / analysis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iron / blood*
  • Male
  • Plasma / chemistry
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pulmonary Embolism / blood*
  • Pulmonary Embolism / diagnosis
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Serum / chemistry
  • Telangiectasia, Hereditary Hemorrhagic / blood*
  • Venous Thrombosis / blood*
  • Venous Thrombosis / diagnosis
  • von Willebrand Factor / analysis


  • Biomarkers
  • von Willebrand Factor
  • Factor VIII
  • Iron