Clinico-pathological manifestations of Ferroportin (Fpn) Disease (FD) are heterogeneous, with some patients presenting with iron overload predominantly in macrophages (“M” phenotype), others predominantly in hepatocytes (“H” phenotype). This appears to reflect functional heterogeneity of Fpn mutants, with loss-of-function generally resulting in the M type.
Two unrelated probands with “non-HFE” hemochromatosis were screened for Fpn mutations. Mutants were functionally characterized by immunofluorescence microscopy, evaluation of their ability to bind hepcidin and export iron, and by expressing them in zebrafish.
Two novel Fpn mutations were identified: I152F in patient-1, presenting with typical M phenotype; and L233P in patient-2, presenting with ambiguous features (massive overload in both macrophages and hepatocytes). Molecular studies suggested loss of function in both cases. The I152F, normally localized on cell membrane and internalized by hepcidin, showed a unique “primary” deficit of iron export capability. The L233P did not appropriately traffic to cell surface. Loss of function was confirmed by expressing both mutants in vivo in zebrafish, resulting in iron limited erythropoiesis. Clinical manifestations were likely enhanced in both patients by nongenetic factors (HCV, alcohol).
The combination of careful review of clinico-pathological data with molecular studies can yield compelling explanations for phenotype heterogeneity in FD.
iron overload; ferroportin; hemochromatosis; hepcidin; zebrafish
Hereditary hemochromatosis (HH) is an autosomal recessive disorder characterized by enhanced intestinal absorption of dietary iron. Without therapeutic intervention, iron overload leads to multiple organ damage such as liver cirrhosis, cardiomyopathy, diabetes, arthritis, hypogonadism and skin pigmentation. Most HH patients carry HFE mutant genotypes: homozygosity for p.Cys282Tyr or p.Cys282Tyr/p.His63Asp compound heterozygosity. In addition to HFE gene, mutations in the genes that encode hemojuvelin (HJV), hepcidin (HAMP), transferrin receptor 2 (TFR2) and ferroportin (SLC40A1) have been associated with regulation of iron homeostasis and development of HH. The aim of this review was to identify the main gene mutations involved in the pathogenesis of type 1, 2, 3 and 4 HH and their genetic testing indication. HFE testing for the two main mutations (p.Cys282Tyr and p.His63Asp) should be performed in all patients with primary iron overload and unexplained increased transferrin saturation and/or serum ferritin values. The evaluation of the HJV p.Gly320Val mutation must be the molecular test of choice in suspected patients with juvenile hemochromatosis with less than 30 years and cardiac or endocrine manifestations. In conclusion, HH is an example that genetic testing can, in addition to performing the differential diagnostic with secondary iron overload, lead to more adequate and faster treatment.
hemochromatosis; primary iron overload; HFE; high-resolution melting; HJV; molecular diagnostic
Background & Aims
Iron deficiency and iron overload affect over a billion people, worldwide. Dietary iron absorption in the small intestine is required for systemic iron homeostasis. Ferroportin (FPN) is the only characterized, mammalian, basolateral iron exporter. Despite the importance of FPN in maintaining iron homeostasis, its in vivo mechanisms of regulation are unclear.
Systemic iron homeostasis was assessed in mice with intestine-specific disruption of genes encoding the von Hippel-Lindau tumor suppressor protein (Vhl), hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α, HIF-2α, and aryl hydrocarbon nuclear translocator (ARNT).
We observed biphasic regulation of Fpn during iron deficiency. Fpn was rapidly induced under conditions of low iron, which required the transcription factor HIF-2α. Targeted disruption of HIF-2α in the intestine inhibited Fpn induction in mice with low iron, through loss of transcriptional activation. Analysis of the Fpn promoter and in vivo chromatin immunoprecipitation assays demonstrated that HIF-2α directly binds to the Fpn promoter and induces its expression, indicating a mechanism of transcriptional regulation of Fpn following changes in systemic levels of iron. During chronic iron deficiency, FPN protein levels also increased, via increased stability through a HIF-2α-independent pathway.
In mice, expression of the gene that encodes Fpn and its protein levels are regulated by distinct pathways to provide a rapid and sustained response to acute and chronic iron deficiency. Therapies that target FPN might be developed for patients with iron-related disorders..
ChIP assay; Hepcidin; diet; metabolism
Disruption of iron homeostatsis within the central nervous system (CNS) can lead to profound abnormalities during both development and aging in mammals. The radiation-induced polycythaemia (Pcm) mutation, a 58-bp microdeletion in the promoter region of ferroportin 1 (Fpn1), disrupts transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation of this pivotal iron transporter. This regulatory mutation induces dynamic alterations in peripheral iron homeostatis such that newborn homozygous Pcm mice exhibit iron deficiency anemia with increased duodenal Fpn1 expression while adult homozygotes display decreased Fpn1 expression and anemia despite organismal iron overload. Herein we report the impact of the Pcm microdeletion on iron homeostasis in two compartments of the the central nervous system: brain and retina. At birth, Pcm homozygotes show a marked decrease in brain iron content and reduced levels of Fpn1 expression. Upregulation of transferrin receptor 1 (TfR1) in brain microvasculature appears to mediate the compensatory iron uptake during postnatal development and iron content in Pcm brain is restored to wildtype levels by 7 weeks of age. Similarly, changes in expression are transient and expression of Fpn1 and TfR1 is indistinguishable between Pcm homozygotes and wildtype by 12 weeks of age. Strikingly, the adult Pcm brain is effectively protected from the peripheral iron overload and maintains normal iron content. In contrast to Fpn1 downregulation in perinatal brain, the retina of Pcm homozygotes reveals increased levels of Fpn1 expression. While retinal morphology appears normal at birth and during early postnatal development, adult Pcm mice demonstrate a marked, age-dependent loss of photoreceptors. This phenotype demonstrates the importance of iron homeostasis in retinal health.
Polycythaemia; Ferroportin; Brain; Retina; Iron
Hemochromatosis is a progressive iron overload disorder that is prevalent among individuals of European descent. It is usually inherited in an autosomal-recessive pattern and associated with missense mutations in HFE, an atypical major histocompatibility class I gene. Recently, we described a large family with autosomal-dominant hemochromatosis not linked to HFE and distinguished by early iron accumulation in reticuloendothelial cells. Through analysis of a large pedigree, we have determined that this disease maps to 2q32. The gene encoding ferroportin (SLC11A3), a transmembrane iron export protein, lies within a candidate interval defined by highly significant lod scores. We show that the iron-loading phenotype in autosomal-dominant hemochromatosis is associated with a nonconservative missense mutation in the ferroportin gene. This missense mutation, converting alanine to aspartic acid at residue 77 (A77D), was not seen in samples from 100 unaffected control individuals. We propose that partial loss of ferroportin function leads to an imbalance in iron distribution and a consequent increase in tissue iron accumulation.
Hereditary hemochromatosis (HH) is caused by chronic hyperabsorption of dietary iron. Progressive accumulation of excess iron within tissue parenchymal cells may lead to severe organ damage. The most prevalent type of HH is linked to mutations in the HFE gene, encoding an atypical major histocompatibility complex classImolecule. Shortly after its discovery in 1996, the hemochromatosis protein HFE was shown to physically interact with transferrin receptor 1 (TfR1) and impair the uptake of transferrin-bound iron in cells. However, these findings provided no clue why HFE mutations associate with systemic iron overload. It was later established that all forms of HH result from misregulation of hepcidin expression. This liver-derived circulating peptide hormone controls iron efflux from duodenal enterocytes and reticuloendothelial macrophages by promoting the degradation of the iron exporter ferroportin. Recent studies with animal models of HH uncover a crucial role of HFE as a hepatocyte iron sensor and upstream regulator of hepcidin. Thus, hepatocyte HFE is indispensable for signaling to hepcidin, presumably as a constituent of a larger iron-sensing complex. A working model postulates that the signaling activity of HFE is silenced when the protein is bound to TfR1. An increase in the iron saturation of plasma transferrin leads to displacement of TfR1 from HFE and assembly of the putative iron-sensing complex. In this way, iron uptake by the hepatocyte is translated into upregulation of hepcidin, reinforcing the concept that the liver is the major regulatory site for systemic iron homeostasis, and not merely an iron storage depot.
Hepcidin; Iron metabolism; Transferrin; Hemojuvelin; Bone morphogenetic proteins
The iron exporter ferroportin (Fpn) is essential to transfer iron from cells to plasma. Systemic iron homeostasis in vertebrates is regulated by the hepcidin-mediated internalization of Fpn. Here we demonstrate a second route for Fpn internalization, when cytosolic iron levels are low Fpn is internalized in a hepcidin-independent manner dependent upon the E3 ubiquitin ligase Nedd4-2 and the Nedd4-2 binding protein Nfdip-1. Retention of cell surface Fpn through reductions in Nedd4-2 results in cell death through depletion of cytosolic iron. Nedd4-2 is also required for internalization of Fpn in the absence of ferroxidase activity as well as for the entry of hepcidin-induced Fpn into the multivesicular body. C. elegans lacks hepcidin genes and C. elegans Fpn expressed in mammalian cells is not internalized by hepcidin but is internalized in response to iron deprivation in a Nedd4-2-dependent manner supporting the hypothesis that Nedd4-2-induced internalization of Fpn is evolutionarily conserved.
Mutations in the HFE gene result in iron overload and can produce hereditary hemochromatosis (HH), a disorder of iron metabolism characterized by increased intestinal iron absorption. Dietary quality, alcoholism and other life-style factors can increase the risk of iron overload, especially among genetically at risk populations. Polymorphisms of the HFE gene (C282Y, H63D and S65C) were measured together with serum ferritin (SF), transferrin saturation (TS) and hemoglobin, to measure iron status, in randomly-selected healthy subjects living in the Spanish Mediterranean coast (n = 815; 425 females, 390 males), 18 to 75 years of age. The intake of dietary components that affect iron absorption was calculated from 3-day dietary records. The presence of C282Y/H63D compound heterozygote that had a prevalence of 2.8% in males and 1.2% in females was associated with an elevated TS and SF. No subject was homozygous for C282Y or S65C. The C282Y heterozygote, H63D heterozygote and homozygote and H63D/S65C compound heterozygote genotypes were associated with increased TS relative to the wild type in the general population. These genotypes together with the alcohol and iron intake increase the indicators of iron status, while calcium intake decreases them. We did not observe any affect of the S65C heterozygote genotype on these levels. All the HFE genotypes except for the S65C heterozygote together with the alcohol, iron and calcium intake affect the indicators of iron status. The C282Y/H63D compound heterozygote genotype has the higher phenotypic expression in our Spanish Mediterranean population.
Iron overload; HFE gene; C282Y variant; H63D variant; S65C variant; Mediterranean diet
Human hemochromatosis (HC) has been associated with the common C282Y polymorphism of HFE or rare pathogenic mutations of TfR2, HJV, FPN and HAMP. All forms of human HC seem to be caused by low or inadequate levels of hepcidin, the iron hormone. We and others have recently shown that Hfe−/−mice exhibit an impairment in the bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling pathway controlling hepcidin. However, all data indicating the central role of BMPs in hepcidin regulation and an impaired BMP/SMAD signaling in HC have been collected in mice. In this study we investigated whether also in humans the expression of BMP signaling targets, SMAD7 and Id1, are associated with liver iron concentration (LIC) and whether such regulation is disrupted in HFE-HC. We correlated the mRNA expression, assessed by RT-PCR, of HAMP, SMAD7 and Id1 with LIC in liver biopsies from patients with normal iron status, HFE-HC or non-HC hepatic iron overload. We found that in human liver, not only HAMP, but also SMAD7 and Id1 mRNA significantly correlate with the extent of hepatic iron burden. However, this correlation is lost in patients with HFE-HC, but maintained in subjects with non-hemochromatotic iron overload. These data indicate that in human HFE-HC a disrupted BMP/SMAD signaling in the liver is key in the pathogenesis of the disease.
iron overload; bone morphogenetic proteins; hepcidin; SMAD proteins
Hereditary hemochromatosis (HH) is a common genetic disease characterized by excessive iron overload that leads to multi-organ failure. Although the most prevalent genotype in HH is homozygosity for C282Y mutation of the HFE gene, two additional mutations, H63D and S65C, appear to be associated with a milder form of HH. The aim of this study was to develop a high-throughput assay for HFE mutations screening based on TaqMan technology and to determine the frequencies of HFE mutations in the Slovenian population.
Altogether, 1282 randomly selected blood donors from different Slovenian regions and 21 HH patients were analyzed for the presence of HFE mutations by an in-house developed real-time PCR assay based on TaqMan technology using shorter non-interfering fluorescent single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)-specific MGB probes. The assay was validated by RFLP analysis and DNA sequencing.
The genotyping assay of the H63D, S65C and C282Y mutations in the HFE gene, based on TaqMan technology proved to be fast, reliable, with a high-throughput capability and 100% concordant with genotypes obtained by RFLP and DNA sequencing. The observed frequency of C282Y homozygotes in the group of HH patients was only 48%, others were of the heterogeneous HFE genotype. Among 1282 blood donors tested, the observed H63D, S65C and C282Y allele frequency were 12.8% (95% confidence interval (CI) 11.5 – 14.2%), 1.8% (95% CI 1.4 – 2.5%) and 3.6% (95% CI 3.0 – 4.5%), respectively. Approximately 33% of the tested subjects had at least one of the three HH mutations, and 1% of them were C282Y homozygotes or compound heterozygotes C282Y/H63D or C282Y/S65C, presenting an increased risk for iron overload disease. A significant variation in H63D allele frequency was observed for one of the Slovenian regions.
The improved real-time PCR assay for H63D, S65C and C282Y mutations detection is accurate, fast, cost-efficient and ready for routine screening and diagnostic procedures. The genotype frequencies in the Slovenian population agree with those reported for the Central European populations although some deviations where observed in comparison with other populations of Slavic origin. Regional distribution of the mutations should be considered when planning population screening.
Background: Although much progress has been made recently in characterising the proteins involved in duodenal iron trafficking, regulation of intestinal iron transport remains poorly understood. It is not known whether the level of mRNA expression of these recently described molecules is genetically regulated. This is of particular interest however as genetic factors are likely to determine differences in iron status among mouse strains and probably also contribute to the phenotypic variability seen with disruption of the haemochromatosis gene.
Aims: To investigate this issue, we examined concomitant variations in duodenal cytochrome b (Dcytb), divalent metal transporter 1 (DMT1), ferroportin 1 (FPN1), hephaestin, stimulator of Fe transport (SFT), HFE, and transferrin receptor 1 (TfR1) transcripts in response to different dietary iron contents in the four mouse strains C57BL/6, DBA/2, CBA, and 129/Sv.
Subjects: Six mice of each strain were fed normal levels of dietary iron, six were subjected to the same diet supplemented with 2% carbonyl iron, and six were fed an iron deficient diet.
Methods: Quantification of mRNAs isolated from the duodenum was performed using real time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction.
Results: There was a significant increase in mRNA expression of Dcytb, DMT1, FPN1, and TfR1 when mice were fed an iron deficient diet, and a significant decrease in mRNA expression of these molecules when mice were fed an iron supplemented diet. Strain to strain differences were observed not only in serum transferrin saturations, with C57BL/6 mice having the lowest values, but also in hepatic iron stores and in duodenal mRNA expression of Dcytb, DMT1, FPN1, hephaestin, HFE, and TfR1.
Conclusions: The results favour some degree of genetic control of mRNA levels of these molecules.
iron metabolism; duodenal iron absorption; dietary iron content; mRNA
There have been major developments in the field of iron metabolism in the past decade following the identification of the HFE gene and the mutation responsible for the C282Y substitution in the HFE protein. While HFE-associated hemochromatosis occurs predominantly in people of northern European extraction, other less-common mutations can lead to the same clinical syndrome and these may occur in other populations in the Asian-Pacific region. The most common of these is the mutation that leads to changes in the ferroportin molecule, the protein responsible for the transport of iron across the basolateral membrane of the enterocyte and from macrophages. Recent research has unraveled the molecular processes of iron transport and regulation of how these are disturbed in hemochromatosis and other iron-loading disorders. At the same time, at least one new oral iron chelating agent has been developed that shows promise in the therapy of hemochromatosis as well as thalassemia and other secondary causes of iron overload. It is pertinent therefore to examine the developments in the global field of iron overload that have provided insights into the pathogenesis, disease penetrance, comorbid factors, and management.
Haemochromatosis; Iron metabolism; HFE haemochromatosis; Secondary iron overload
The human HFE gene (a key component of iron homeostasis in humans) is involved in hereditary hemochromatosis, a common autosomal recessive genetic disorder that is characterized by excessive intestinal iron absorption and progressive iron overload.
In this study, we assessed the frequency of two common forms of hemochromatosis HFE gene mutation (C282Y and H63D) in patients suffering from cryptogenic cirrhosis.
Patients and Methods
One hundred and fifty individuals were included in this study, in which 100 were patients with cryptogenic cirrhosis and 50 were from the normal population. All individuals were examined for common HFE gene mutations by amplification of nucleotide 845 C282Y and 187 H63D alleles and product analysis using the polymerase chain reaction method and restriction enzyme digestion.
No case of either a homozygous or heterozygous C282Y mutation was found. For the H63D mutation, no homozygosity was detected but heterozygosity was detected in 22% of patients and in 28% of the normal population.
Hereditary hemochromatosis is not a major cause of cryptogenic cirrhosis in the Iranian population.
Mutation; Iran; Liver Cirrhosis; Genes
Perturbations in iron metabolism have been shown to dramatically impact host response to infection. The most common inherited iron overload disorder results from defects in the HFE gene product, a major histocompatibility complex class I-like protein that interacts with transferrin receptors. HFE-associated hemochromatosis is characterized by abnormally high levels of the iron efflux protein ferroportin. In this study, J774 murine macrophages overexpressing ferroportin were used to investigate the influence of iron metabolism on the release of nitric oxide (NO) in response to infection. Overexpression of ferroportin significantly impaired intracellular Mycobacterium tuberculosis growth during early stages of infection. When challenged with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) or M. tuberculosis infection, control macrophages increased NO synthesis, but macrophages overexpressing ferroportin had significantly impaired NO production in response to LPS or M. tuberculosis. Increased NO synthesis in control cells was accompanied by increased iNOS mRNA and protein, while upregulation of iNOS protein was markedly reduced when J744 cells overexpressing ferroportin were challenged with LPS or M. tuberculosis, thus limiting the bactericidal activity of these macrophages. The proinflammatory cytokine gamma interferon reversed the inhibitory effect of ferroportin overexpression on NO production. These results suggest a novel role for ferroportin in attenuating macrophage-mediated immune responses.
Multicellular organisms regulate the uptake of calories, trace elements, and other nutrients by complex feedback mechanisms. In the case of iron, the body senses internal iron stores, iron requirements for hematopoiesis, and inflammatory status, and regulates iron uptake by modulating the uptake of dietary iron from the intestine. Both the liver and the intestine participate in the coordination of iron uptake and distribution in the body. The liver senses inflammatory signals and iron status of the organism and secretes a peptide hormone, hepcidin. Under high iron or inflammatory conditions hepcidin levels increase. Hepcidin binds to the iron transport protein, ferroportin (FPN), promoting FPN internalization and degradation. Decreased FPN levels reduce iron efflux out of intestinal epithelial cells and macrophages into the circulation. Derangements in iron metabolism result in either the abnormal accumulation of iron in the body, or in anemias. The identification of the mutations that cause the iron overload disease, hereditary hemochromatosis (HH), or iron-refractory iron-deficiencey anemia has revealed many of the proteins used to regulate iron uptake.
Scope of the review
In this review we discuss recent data concerning the regulation of iron homeostasis in the body by the liver and how transferrin receptor 2 (TfR2) affects this process.
TfR2 plays a key role in regulating iron homeostasis in the body.
The regulation of iron homeostasis is important. One third of the people in the world are anemic. HH is the most common inherited disease in people of Northern European origin and can lead to severe health complications if left untreated.
Hereditary hemochromatosis; transferrin receptor 2; TfR2; HFE; hepcidin; hemojuvelin; BMP; ferroportin
Hereditary hemochromatosis (HH) encompasses several inherited disorders of iron homeostasis characterized by increased gastrointestinal iron absorption and tissue iron deposition. The most common form of this disorder is HFE-related HH, nearly always caused by homozygosity for the C282Y mutation. A substantial proportion of C282Y homozygotes do not develop clinically significant iron overload, suggesting roles for environmental factors and modifier genes in determining the phenotype. Recent studies have demonstrated that the pathogenesis of nearly all forms of HH involves inappropriately decreased expression of the iron-regulatory hormone hepcidin. Hepcidin serves to decrease the export of iron from reticuloendothelial cells and absorptive enterocytes. Thus, HH patients demonstrate increased iron release from these cell types, elevated circulating iron, and iron deposition in vulnerable tissues. The mechanism by which HFE influences hepcidin expression is an area of current investigation and may offer insights into the phenotypic variability observed in persons with mutations in HFE.
Hemochromatosis; iron; HFE; hepcidin; ferroportin
In human hemochromatosis, tissue toxicity is a function of tissue iron levels. Despite reports of skin toxicity in hemochromatosis, little is known about iron levels in skin of individuals with systemic iron overload. We measured skin iron and studied skin histology in three mouse models of systemic iron overload: mice with a deletion of the hemochromatosis (Hfe) gene, mice fed a high iron diet, and mice given parenteral injections of iron. In Hfe−/− mice, iron content in the epidermis and dermis was unexpectedly the same as in Hfe+/+ mice, and there were no histological abnormalities detected after 30 wk. A high iron diet produced increased iron in the epidermis of both normal and Hfe−/− animals; a high diet increased iron in the dermis only in Hfe−/− mice. Increased skin iron was not associated with other histological changes, even after 19 wk. Parenteral administration of iron produced increased iron in the epidermis and dermis, and gave the skin a bronze hue. These results show that the amount and distribution of iron in the skin depends on the etiology of iron overload. It appears that neither Hfe deletion nor elevated skin iron alone can account for cutaneous manifestations reportedly seen in humans with hereditary hemochromatosis.
hemochromatosis; skin; iron; diet; ferritin
Missense mutations in ferroportin1 (fpn1), an intestinal and macrophage iron exporter, have been identified between transmembrane helices 3 and 4 in the zebrafish anemia mutant weissherbst (wehTp85c–/–) and in patients with type 4 hemochromatosis. To explore the effects of fpn1 mutation on blood development and iron homeostasis in the adult zebrafish, wehTp85c–/– zebrafish were rescued by injection with iron dextran and studied in comparison with injected and uninjected WT zebrafish and heterozygotes. Although iron deposition was observed in all iron-injected fish, only wehTp85c–/– zebrafish exhibited iron accumulation in the intestinal epithelium compatible with a block in iron export. Iron injections initially reversed the anemia. However, 8 months after iron injections were discontinued, wehTp85c–/– zebrafish developed hypochromic anemia and impaired erythroid maturation despite the persistence of iron-loaded macrophages and elevated hepatic nonheme iron stores. Quantitative real-time RT-PCR revealed a significant decrease in mean hepatic transcript levels of the secreted iron-regulator hepcidin and increased intestinal expression of fpn1 in anemic wehTp85c–/– adults. Injection of iron dextran into WT or mutant zebrafish embryos, however, resulted in significant increases in hepcidin expression 18 hours after injection, demonstrating that hepcidin expression in zebrafish is iron responsive and independent of fpn1’s function as an iron exporter.
Hereditary hemochromatosis (HH) encompasses genetic disorders of iron overload characterized by deficient expression or function of the iron-regulatory hormone hepcidin. Mutations in 5 genes have been linked to this disease: HFE, TFR2 (encoding transferrin receptor 2), HAMP (encoding hepcidin), SLC40A1 (encoding ferroportin) and HJV (encoding hemojuvelin). Hepcidin inhibits iron export from cells into plasma. Hemojuvelin, an upstream regulator of hepcidin expression, is expressed in mice mainly in the heart and skeletal muscle. It has been suggested that soluble hemojuvelin shed by the muscle might reach the liver to influence hepcidin expression. Heart muscle is one of the target tissues affected by iron overload, with resultant cardiomyopathy in some HH patients. Therefore, we investigated the effect of iron overload on gene expression in skeletal muscle and heart using Illumina™ arrays containing over 47,000 probes. The most apparent changes in gene expression were confirmed using real-time RT-PCR.
Genes with up-regulated expression after iron overload in both skeletal and heart muscle included angiopoietin-like 4, pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase 4 and calgranulin A and B. The expression of transferrin receptor, heat shock protein 1B and DnaJ homolog B1 were down-regulated by iron in both muscle types. Two potential hepcidin regulatory genes, hemojuvelin and neogenin, showed no clear change in expression after iron overload.
Microarray analysis revealed iron-induced changes in the expression of several genes involved in the regulation of glucose and lipid metabolism, transcription and cellular stress responses. These may represent novel connections between iron overload and pathological manifestations of HH such as cardiomyopathy and diabetes.
Patients with hemochromatosis may suffer organ damage from iron overload, often with serious clinical consequences.
To assess prevalences of self-reported symptoms and clinical signs and conditions in persons homozygous for the hemochromatosis gene (HFE) mutation (C282Y) identified by screening.
Participants were adults 25 years of age or older enrolled in the Hemochromatosis and Iron Overload Screening (HEIRS) Study. C282Y homozygotes (n=282) were compared with control participants without the HFE C282Y or H63D alleles (ie, wild type/wild type; n=364).
Previously diagnosed C282Y homozygotes and newly diagnosed homozygotes with elevated serum ferritin levels had higher prevalences of certain symptoms such as chronic fatigue (OR 2.8; 95% CI 1.34 to 5.95, and OR 2.0; 95% CI 1.07 to 3.75, respectively), and had more hyperpigmentation on physical examination (OR 4.7; 95% CI 1.50 to 15.06, and OR 3.7; 95% CI 1.10 to 12.16, respectively) and swelling or tenderness of the second and third metacarpophalangeal joints (OR 4.2; 95% CI 1.37 to 13.03, and OR 3.3; 95% CI 1.17 to 9.49, respectively) than control subjects. Joint stiffness was also more common among newly diagnosed C282Y homozygotes with elevated serum ferritin than among control subjects (OR 2.7; 95% CI 1.38 to 5.30). However, the sex- and age-adjusted prevalences of self-reported symptoms and signs of liver disease, heart disease, diabetes and most other major clinical manifestations of hemochromatosis were similar in C282Y homozygotes and control subjects.
Some symptoms and conditions associated with hemochromatosis were more prevalent among C282Y homozygotes identified by screening than among control subjects, but prevalences of most outcomes were similar in C282Y homozygotes and controls in this primary care-based study.
Complications; Cross-sectional study; Hemochromatosis; HFE; Iron overload; Prevalence
There is emerging evidence that there are genetic modifiers of iron indices for HFE gene mutation carriers at risk of hereditary hemochromatosis. A random sample stratified by HFE genotype of 863 from a cohort of 31,192 people of northern European descent provided blood samples for genotyping of 476 SNPs in 44 genes involved in iron metabolism. Single SNP association testing using linear regression models adjusted for sex, menopause and HFE genotype was conducted for four continuously distributed outcomes: serum ferritin (log transformed), transferrin saturation, serum transferrin, and serum iron. The SNP rs884409 in CYBRD1 is a novel modifier specific to HFE C282Y homozygotes. Median unadjusted serum ferritin concentration decreased from 1194 µg/L (N=27) to 387 µg/L (N=16) for male C282Y homozygotes and from 357 µg/L (N=42) to 69 µg/L (N=12) for females, comparing those with no copies to those with one copy of rs884409. Functional testing of this CYBRD1 promoter polymorphism using a heterologous expression assay resulted in a 30% decrease in basal promoter activity relative to the common genotype (p=0.004). This putative genetic modifier of iron overload expression accounts for 11% (95% CI 0.4%, 22.6%) of the variance in serum ferritin levels of C282Y homozygotes.
haemochromatosis; iron overload; iron adsorption; iron metabolism; genetic analysis
Ferroportin (FPN1), the sole characterized mammalian iron exporter, has an iron responsive element (IRE) in its 5'UTR, which ensures that its translation is repressed by iron regulatory proteins in iron-deficient conditions to maintain cellular iron content. However, here we demonstrate that duodenal epithelial and erythroid precursor cells utilize an alternative upstream promoter to express a FPN1 transcript, FPN1B, which lacks the IRE and is not repressed in iron-deficient conditions. The FPN1B transcript encodes ferroportin with an identical open reading frame, and contributes significantly to ferroportin protein expression in erythroid precursors, and likely also in the duodenum of iron-starved animals. The identification of FPN1B reveals how FPN1 expression can bypass IRP-dependent repression in intestinal iron uptake, even when cells throughout the body are iron-deficient. In erythroid precursor cells, we hypothesize that FPN1B expression enhances real-time sensing of systemic iron status and facilitates restriction of erythropoiesis in response to low systemic iron.
The existence of multiple inherited disorders of iron metabolism suggests genetic contributions to iron deficiency. We previously performed a genome-wide association study of iron-related single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) using DNA from white men aged ≥25 y and women ≥50 y in the Hemochromatosis and Iron Overload Screening (HEIRS) Study with serum ferritin (SF) ≤12 µg/L (cases) and controls (SF >100 µg/L in men, SF >50 µg/L in women). We report a follow-up study of white, African-American, Hispanic, and Asian HEIRS participants, analyzed for association between SNPs and eight iron-related outcomes. Three chromosomal regions showed association across multiple populations, including SNPs in the TF and TMPRSS6 genes, and on chromosome 18q21. A novel SNP rs1421312 in TMPRSS6 was associated with serum iron in whites (p = 3.7×10−6) and replicated in African Americans (p = 0.0012).Twenty SNPs in the TF gene region were associated with total iron-binding capacity in whites (p<4.4×10−5); six SNPs replicated in other ethnicities (p<0.01). SNP rs10904850 in the CUBN gene on 10p13 was associated with serum iron in African Americans (P = 1.0×10−5). These results confirm known associations with iron measures and give unique evidence of their role in different ethnicities, suggesting origins in a common founder.
The highly variable clinical phenotype observed in patients homozygous for the C282Y mutation of the hereditary hemochromatosis gene (HFE) is likely due to the influence of non-HFE modifier genes. The primary functional abnormality causing iron overload in hemochromatosis is hyper-absorption of dietary iron. We found that iron absorption in inbred mice varies in a strain-specific manner, as does the pattern of iron distribution to the liver and spleen. A/J mice absorbed approximately twice the amount of 59Fe delivered by gavage compared to the C57BL/6 strain. Genetic comparisons between A/J and C57BL/6 were facilitated by the availability of consomic chromosome substitution strains (CSS). Each CSS has an individual chromosome pair from A/J on an otherwise C57BL/6J background. We found that iron absorption and iron content in liver and in spleen were continuous variables suggesting that each trait is under multigenic control. No trait co-segregated among the CSS. Chromosome 5 from A/J, however, imparted the highest iron absorption phenotype and multiple CSS had absorption levels equivalent to A/J. Chromosomes 9 and X were associated with high spleen iron content. These data suggest that multiple genes contribute to the regulation of iron absorption and that individual organ iron phenotypes are independently regulated.
Iron; Phenotype; Mapping
Mycobacterium avium is an opportunistic infectious agent in immunocompromised patients, living inside macrophage phagosomes. As for other mycobacterial species, iron availability is a critical factor for M. avium survival and multiplication. Indeed, an association between host secondary iron overload and increased susceptibility to these mycobacteria is generally acknowledged. However, studies on the impact of primary iron overload on M. avium infection have not been performed. In this work, we used animal models of primary iron overload that mimic the human disease hereditary hemochromatosis. This pathology is characterized by increased serum transferrin saturation with iron deposition in parenchymal cells, mainly in the liver, and is most often associated with mutations in the gene encoding the molecule HFE. In this paper, we demonstrate that mice of two genetically determined primary iron overload phenotypes, Hfe−/− and β2m−/−, show an increased susceptibility to experimental infection with M. avium and that during infection these animals accumulate iron inside granuloma macrophages. β2m−/− mice were found to be more susceptible than Hfe−/− mice, but depleting Hfe−/− mice of CD8+ cells had no effect on resistance to infection. Overall, our results suggest that serum iron, rather than total liver iron, levels have a considerable impact on susceptibility to M. avium infection.