1 Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research 2003 Vol: 36(6):. DOI: 10.1590/S0100-879X2003000600009

Lack of evidence for the pathogenic role of iron and HFE gene mutations in Brazilian patients with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis

The hypothesis of the role of iron overload associated with HFE gene mutations in the pathogenesis of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) has been raised in recent years. In the present study, biochemical and histopathological evidence of iron overload and HFE mutations was investigated in NASH patients. Thirty-two NASH patients, 19 females (59%), average 49.2 years, 72% Caucasians, 12% Mulattoes and 12% Asians, were submitted to serum aminotransferase and iron profile determinations. Liver biopsies were analyzed for necroinflammatory activity, architectural damage and iron deposition. In 31 of the patients, C282Y and H63D mutations were tested by PCR-RFLP. Alanine aminotransferase levels were increased in 30 patients, 2.42 ± 1.12 times the upper normal limit on average. Serum iron concentration, transferrin saturation and ferritin averages were 99.4 ± 31.3 g/dl, 33.1 ± 12.7% and 219.8 ± 163.8 µg/dl, respectively, corresponding to normal values in 93.5, 68.7 and 78.1% of the patients. Hepatic siderosis was observed in three patients and was not associated with architectural damage (P = 0.53) or with necroinflammatory activity (P = 0.27). The allelic frequencies (N = 31) found were 1.6 and 14.1% for C282Y and H63D, respectively, which were compatible with those described for the local population. In conclusion, no evidence of an association of hepatic iron overload and HFE mutations with NASH was found. Brazilian NASH patients comprise a heterogeneous group with many associated conditions such as hyperinsulinism, environmental hepatotoxin exposure and drugs, but not hepatic iron overload, and their disease susceptibility could be related to genetic and environmental features other than HFE mutations.

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