Alterations in sympathetic nerve traffic in genetic haemochromatosis before and after iron depletion therapy: A microneurographic study

Gino Seravalle, Alberto Piperno, Raffaella Mariani, Irene Pelloni, Rita Facchetti, Raffaella Dell'oro, Cesare Cuspidi, Giuseppe Mancia, Guido Grassi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims Haemochromatosis (HH) displays a number of circulatory alterations concurring at increase cardiovascular risk. Whether these include sympathetic abnormalities in unknown. Methods and results In 18 males with primary HH (age: 42.3 ± 10.4 years, mean ± SD), clinic and beat-to-beat blood pressure (BP, Finapres), heart rate (HR, EKG), and muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA, microneurography) traffic were measured in the iron overload state and after iron depletion therapy. Haemochromatosis patients displayed elevated serum iron indices while other haemodynamic and metabolic variables were superimposable to ones seen in 12 healthy subjects (C). Muscle sympathetic nerve activity was significantly greater in HH than C (64.8 ± 13.3 vs. 37.8 ± 6.7 bs/100 hb, P <0.01). Iron depletion caused a significant reduction in serum ferritin, transferrin saturation, and MSNA (from 64.8 ± 13.3 to 39.2 ± 9.2 bs/100 hb, P <0.01) and a significant improvement in baroreflex-MSNA modulation. This was paralleled by a significant increase in the high-frequency HR variability and by a significant reduction in the low-frequency systolic BP variability components. Before after iron depletion therapy, MSNA was significantly and directly related to transferrin saturation, liver iron concentration, and iron removed, while the MSNA reductions observed after the procedure were significantly and inversely related to the baroreflex-MSNA increases detected after iron depletion. In C, all variables remained unchanged following 1 month observation. Conclusion These data provide the first evidence that in HH iron overload is associated with an hyperadrenergic state and a baroreflex alteration, which are reversed by iron depletion. These findings underline the importance of iron overload in modulating sympathetic activation, possibly participating at the elevated cardiovascular risk reported in HH.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)988-995
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Heart Journal
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Mar 21 2016


  • Cardiovascular risk
  • Haemochromatosis
  • Iron depletion
  • Iron overload
  • Serum ferritin
  • Sympathetic nervous system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Alterations in sympathetic nerve traffic in genetic haemochromatosis before and after iron depletion therapy: A microneurographic study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this