Semin Liver Dis 2005 Nov;25(4):381-91
Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, The Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital and the Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Australia.
The term hemochromatosis is commonly used as synonymous with HFE-associated genetic iron overload but several rarer causes of an identical clinicopathological syndrome have been described in recent years. The most common symptoms are lethargy and arthralgia, and the major complications of end-stage disease are cirrhosis, diabetes, and cardiac and endocrine manifestations. However, with the development of cascade screening for family members of affected probands as well as screening for common diseases at health checks, hemochromatosis is being detected at increasingly early stages, often when there are only biochemical abnormalities. The available evidence from screening studies strongly suggests that approximately 75% of C282Y homozygous subjects have biochemical expression. Hepatic iron overload is present in approximately 56% and 34% of men and women, respectively, advanced hepatic fibrosis in 18.7% and 5.4%, respectively, and cirrhosis in 5.8% and 1.9%, respectively. In subjects with severe expression of the disease, additional modifying genetic mutations have been described including those in hepcidin and hemojuvelin. Treatment is by regular phlebotomy which, if instituted before the development of cirrhosis, results in normal life expectancy.