Blood 2003 Apr 5;101(8):3316-8. Epub 2002 Dec 5.
Department of Life Sciences, King's College London, England.
Hereditary hemochromatosis is a common iron-loading disorder found in populations of European descent. It has been proposed that mutations causing loss of function of HFE gene result in reduced iron incorporation into immature duodenal crypt cells. These cells then overexpress genes for iron absorption, leading to inappropriate cellular iron balance, a persistent iron deficiency of the duodenal mucosa, and increased iron absorption. The objective was to measure duodenal iron content in Hfe knock-out mice to test whether the mutation causes a persistent decrease in enterocyte iron concentration. In both normal and Hfe knock-out mice, duodenal nonheme iron content was found to correlate with liver iron stores (P <.001, r = 0.643 and 0.551, respectively), and this effect did not depend on dietary iron levels. However, duodenal iron content was reduced in Hfe knock-out mice for any given content of liver iron stores (P <.001).