Hyperferritinemia-cataract syndrome: Long-term ophthalmic observations in an Italian family

Ophthalmic Genet. 2016 Sep;37(3):318-22. doi: 10.3109/13816810.2015.1059460. Epub 2016 Feb 5.


Background: Hyperferritinemia-cataract syndrome (HCS) is a rare Mendelian condition characterized by bilateral cataract and high levels of serum ferritin in the absence of iron overload.

Methods: HCS was diagnosed in three adult siblings. In two of them it was possible to assess lens changes initially in 1995 and again in 2013. Serum ferritin, iron, transferrin concentrations and transferrin saturation percentage were also measured, and the Iron Responsive Element (IRE) region of the L-ferritin gene (FTL) was studied.

Results: Serum ferritin concentrations were considerably elevated while serum iron, transferrin and transferrin saturation levels were within the normal range in each sibling. Cataract changes in our patients were consistent with those previously reported in the literature. Progression of the cataract, an aspect of few studies in this syndrome, appeared to be quite limited in extent. The heterozygous +32G to T (-168G>T) substitution in the IRE of the FTL gene was detected in this family.

Conclusions: Ophthalmic and biochemical studies together with genetic testing confirmed HCS in three family members. Although the disorder has been extensively described in recent years, little is known regarding cataract evolution over time. In our cases, lens evaluations encompassed many years, identified bilateral cataract of typical morphology and supported the hypothesis that this unique clinical feature of the disease tends to be slowly progressive in nature, at least in adults.

Keywords: Cataract; L-ferritin gene; hyperferritinemia-cataract syndrome; iron responsive element.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Apoferritins / genetics
  • Cataract / congenital*
  • Cataract / diagnosis
  • Cataract / genetics
  • Female
  • Ferritins / blood
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Iron Metabolism Disorders / congenital*
  • Iron Metabolism Disorders / diagnosis
  • Iron Metabolism Disorders / genetics
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pedigree
  • Transferrin / metabolism


  • Transferrin
  • Ferritins
  • Apoferritins

Supplementary concepts

  • Hyperferritinemia, hereditary, with congenital cataracts