Hereditary hemochromatosis: Impact of molecular and iron-based testing on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of a common, chronic disease

Richard D. Press

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

33 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective. - To review the current state-of-the-art regarding the role of iron- and DNA-based testing on the detection, treatment, and prevention of hereditary hemochromatosis (HH), the most common single-gene disorder in white people. Sources. - Review of the medical literature, with particular emphasis on recent reports of the impact of DNA-based testing on the detection of symptomatic and presymptomatic patients with HH. Conclusions. - Hereditary hemochromatosis, a common autosomal recessive iron overload disorder (with a population prevalence of 0.3%-0.8%), is a common cause of preventable liver, heart, joint, and endocrine disease. Since the associated clinical signs and symptoms are nonspecific, an accurate HH diagnosis demands both a high index of suspicion and the direct laboratory demonstration of elevated iron parameters. The substantial public health burden of HH as a common, deadly, detectable, and treatable chronic disease has led the College of American Pathologists to recommend that 'systematic screening for hemochromatosis is warranted for all persons over the age of 20 years.' The recent discovery that most HH cases are the result of a single well-conserved homozygous missense mutation (C282Y) within a novel transferrin-receptor binding protein (HFE) has given rise to diagnostic clinical tests for the DNA-based detection of this pathologic mutation. This direct HFE mutation test can now be used not only to confirm the diagnosis of HH in those with symptomatic disease, but also, perhaps more importantly, to detect those with presymptomatic iron overload in whom future disease manifestations may be prevented (with phlebotomy therapy).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1053-1059
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Volume123
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 19 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Medical Laboratory Technology

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